‘We outgrew this building 15 years ago’; Ivins City Council approves architectural firm for new city hall

ST. GEORGE — The Ivins City Council announced the selection of an architectural firm for the new city hall during a meeting Thursday.

In a previous meeting, the city council authorized officials to move forward with finding an architectural firm and allocated $50,000 to the efforts, which Mayor Chris Hart said is far from what the total cost will be to secure the plans for the building, but it’s a start.

As it stands, the city’s government has outgrown the current city hall, Hart said.

“We outgrew this building 15 years ago,” he said. “We’ve had people tucked in compartments and so forth. The need has been there for quite a long time.”

The city issued a request for proposals to architects all over the nation and received responses from four firms. Hart said although the city officials who reviewed the applications were impressed by the firms who came forward, only two were interviewed and one was ultimately chosen.

The Ivins City Council discusses the process of finding an architectural firm during a scheduled meeting, Ivins, Utah, Oct. 18, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

Of the firms not interviewed, Hart said one had “unusually high costs,” over twice as much as the other firms. The other firm “did not have a local presence.” With the elimination of half of the firms, city officials conducted interviews with the remaining two.

“I think it was unanimous,” Hart said. “Everyone on that interview team came to the conclusion that a company called VCBO would be our preferred architectural consultant.”

VCBO recently opened an office in St. George, and the project manager is currently looking to purchase a home in the city as well. Hart said the company was chosen because the city officials involved in the process liked the firm’s approach and personnel likely to be involved in the project.

The mayor said officials spoke with the firm’s representatives about the city’s desire to incorporate the eclectic nature of the Ivins community into the project. VCBO said they wanted to approach the design element of the building by creating a number of presentations with different types of building styles and holding a civic event for resident to attend, make comments and ask questions.

Ivins City Hall in Ivins, Utah, Oct. 3, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

“We thought that engaging the community in this project — because it’s a one-time shot for us — would be a positive thing,” Hart said, adding that the city wants to build an extremely efficient, self-propelled structure and do it on a budget and within reason.

Ivins is hoping to construct an energy-efficient building with the ultimate goal of becoming a “net zero energy building,” meaning the total amount of energy annually used by the building is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site. The firm has estimated the cost of construction at about $300 per square foot at a total of 10,000 square feet.

The city’s request for proposals also included the repurposing of the current city hall. Once the city hall is built and officials can start moving in, the original city hall will be repurposed for the Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department. The cities’ law enforcement, Hart said, has also outgrown their current location at Santa Clara’s City Hall.

“It’s a combination of needs that are bringing us to this,” Hart said. “The only thing we can do slower is just stop altogether.”

Ivins City Hall in Ivins, Utah, Oct. 3, 2019 | Photo by Ryann Richardson, St. George News

Collaborating with the architectural firm is estimated to cost a total of $233,000. The $50,000 expenditure had already been budgeted in the city’s Fiscal Year Budget 2019-20 and will cover the cost to begin working with the architectural firm.

However, the city is conducting a financial analysis to find additional funds that will cover the remaining $183,000. According to the staff report, city financial officials assert they are confident they will find enough funds and will bring them forward for approval in a future city council meeting.

The next Ivins City Council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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