McHenry building's fix requires bigger wallet

McHENRY – Money borrowed for work on McHenry’s public works building might not cover costs, the city administrator said.

Studio 222, an architectural firm approved by the McHenry City Council at its meeting Monday, estimates that replacing the building’s roof and installing an infrared heating system will cost $1.2 million, City Administrator Derik Morefield told the council.

The city in a bond in July obtained financing for $890,000.

Morefield said he hopes that when Studio 222 does the design specifications, the bids will come in lower than the $1.2 million estimate that is based on preliminary figures.

He added that energy efficiency grants may help with the cost. But if they don’t, the project might have to be done in phases because it wouldn’t be cost efficient to acquire additional financing, Morefield said.

At this point, the roof is the priority because it leaks and costs the city in terms of maintenance. But, Morefield said, it makes sense to do both parts at once, if possible, because installing a heating system means penetrating the roof to put in vents.

The infrared heating system would replace a system that works much like residential heating and is wasteful in a building such as the public works facility with high ceilings, he said.

The 100,000-square-foot public works building at 1415 Industrial Drive , was purchased in 2007 for $3.2 million because the multiple facilities public works had been using were “extremely cramped and inefficient,” Morefield said.

The city put $1.2 million in renovations into the former manufacturing plant to use it as a public works facility.

The city currently owes about $3.9 million on the purchase and earlier renovations, Morefield said. It pays about $247,000 per year in interest.

There’s been a lot of talk about how much this facility is going to cost, Alderman Richard Wimmer said at the Monday meeting. But even with all of the renovations, it will be cheaper than building new, he said.

A new building would have cost more than $8 million, officials estimated.

The council voted unanimously Monday to go with Studio 222 for $67,500, about 5 percent of the project, which is in the range the city was shooting for, Morefield said.

As part of its search for a firm, the city requested that the firms submit their qualifications, not how much they would charge, he said. Studio 222 was one of 10 companies that sought the job.

“What we wanted to do was identify the qualifications of the firms and then select the one we thought was the most qualified, and then we asked for a cost proposal from them,” Morefield said. “We didn’t want to base it on competitive pricing; we wanted to do it based on qualifications.”

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