Thursday, January 8, 2009

Competing developers defend their Central Library plans

Link to January 7 Wisconsin State Journal article.

The Fiore Cos. and T. Wall Properties top 10 arguments for their proposals:

• An iconic building at a prominent location. A free-standing library with high visibility on a Downtown gateway, double the vehicle traffic counts, and an attractive package for donors.
• Superior design details. The building faces south affording comfort for reading areas, has 18 feet between floors, a sixth-floor outdoor patio, an exterior of stone and glass, and a higher-quality mechanical system.
• Outstanding public experience. The main entry is inviting and has 29,000 square feet of space including a mezzanine, and West Washington Avenue window bays will provide outstanding views.
• Operational control. The new building will have a dedicated, library-appropriate heating and air conditioning system, not one shared by other building occupants.
• No temporary relocation or library down time.
• Price protection. The Fiore price is fixed to April 1, 2010. (Wall has options to adjust prices in 2009).
• A bigger economic impact with an $80 million total cost. (Wall offers a $45 million impact.)
• Comparable total costs.
• A LEED silver building that will deliver long-term savings.

• Efficiency. A larger and more flexible floor plan with floors ranging from 25,000 to 30,000 square feet. That means less supervision is needed and lower staff costs.
• Expansion. The library can lease space and grow into the fifth floor within the existing building.
• Diversity of offerings. The structure offers a glass-encased exhibit space, an elevated urban plaza, teen library and signage opportunities.
• The vibrancy of mixed-use. Libraries that co-locate see an increase in activity. First-floor retail and upper-level offices will generate traffic, and the design supports a broad range of functions.
• Neighborhood revitalization. A public anchor will attract private investment.
• Ready to go. No future subsidy required. (Fiore is seeking tax incremental financing for phase II of its project). Available capital and tenant interest.
• The right price. The Wall project is less expensive than Fiore, and has options to add features sought in the city's request for proposals.
• Lease flexibility. If the city can't immediately buy the entire library upon delivery, it has the option to lease space until fundraising can cover a purchase.
• Cost sharing. The rents generated by commercial space help with economies of scale for the overall project.
• Revenue opportunities. The
library can open a library store, lease atrium space and use less staff due to larger floors.

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