Cost increases estimated for Del Mar civic center

Del Mar will need a little more funding than originally estimated for its new civic center, but the project is still within the city’s financing capacity, city officials said during the Nov. 16 council meeting.

The project is expected to cost about $17.8 million.

Last spring, consultants for the city estimated the project would cost $12.4 million to $16.4 million. Since then, construction cost estimates have escalated, and project add-ons, including additional seating capacity and a catering kitchen, increased the price.

“It’s a lot of money for our little city,” said Councilman Dwight Worden. “The couple of improvements are well worth it. That’s a core part of what the community wants out of this project.”

The city plans to cover the costs by borrowing funds.

Assistant City Manager Mark Delin said Del Mar has the capacity to borrow up to $38.2 million at the 3.5 percent effective interest rate available through the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, or up to $19.1 million using the financing policies recommended by the city’s Finance Committee. If the city borrowed $17 million, its annual payments over 30 years would be about $941,000, according to the staff report.

The council unanimously gave staff the go-ahead to proceed with the loan application. The exact amount of the loan will be decided and approved once the project is sent out to bid and costs are finalized.

“It’s a good time to build a project,” Delin said.

Following months of input from council and community members, the council on Nov. 2 unanimously approved the architectural design for Del Mar’s new civic center, which will feature a 3,200-square-foot town hall for community gatherings and government meetings on the site of the city’s facilities at 1050 Camino del Mar. Plans also include a 9,250-square-foot city hall for administrative services, a 15,000-square-foot outdoor public plaza for community activities, and 160 spaces for parking in both a two-level underground parking garage and a surface parking lot.

With the council’s approval of the civic center design, the project is going through the design review process, with a preliminary review by the Design Review Board scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 18, and a Citizens’ Participation Program meeting set for Thursday, Nov. 19. After the Design Review Board hearing on Dec. 16, the council is scheduled to finalize the project’s environmental impact report and approve entitlement documents on Jan. 4, 2016, clearing the way for demolition.

If all goes according to schedule, demolition could begin as early as February and construction could start in late spring 2016.