Northern Fire Rescue Station 12 Update




Review project program; discuss budget options




Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Eggleston, Shadman, Stumbaugh, Lilley







November 1, 2006


ACTION:                                  INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:                                INFORMATION:   











The Hollymead development area is currently served by the Earlysville Volunteer Fire Company, the Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Company, and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Volunteer Rescue Squad. Because of the distance from the current stations to the Hollymead development area, the current system cannot meet the five minute fire response time standard nor the four minute EMS response time standard as defined in the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Therefore, the Northern Fire Rescue station project is primarily justified to cover gaps in service. The Hollymead area continues to grow with the addition of the Hollymead Town Center, North Point development, and expansion of the NGIC. The need to provide adequate fire and EMS protection in this growing area further justifies the Northern Fire Rescue Station.


When fully operational, the Northern Fire Rescue station will house an engine, ladder truck, ambulance, and tanker.  The apparatus complement will require three double-deep apparatus bays. The station facility plan also includes living space to accommodate volunteer and career staff (bedroom, showers, office space, etc.), training/community room, exercise room, and four dorm rooms that will accommodate four live-in volunteer members.


The University of Virginia Foundation proffered a parcel of land suitable for a fire rescue station during the rezoning process for the UVA Research Park. The parcel, generally located off Airport Road, is within the Park. One complication of utilizing this proffered site rather than purchasing another in the area is that a new road will need to be constructed by the UVA Foundation to provide site access.  This road will eventually become part of the County’s planned parallel road system identified in the Comprehensive Plan and through the work currently underway in the Places 29 Master Plan.  In addition, during the design process for the fire station itself, staff worked closely with the UVA Design Review Committee (DRC) to ensure that the station met the park’s design requirements.  While both of these issues have impacted the cost of the project, they have helped to avoid potential additional land cost and have resulted in an ideal location for response time.  Finally, utilizing this site will further the development of the needed parallel road system approved with the original rezoning of the Foundation property and currently included in the County’s Comprehensive Plan.


To date, the Board has appropriated $3,699,500 for the construction of the facility, which was the original total cost estimate in FY 2002/2003 for design, construction and equipping of the facility.  This estimate reflected staff’s best estimate nearly four years ago and was based on the construction industry at the time and our experience with the construction of the Monticello Fire Rescue Station.  Since that time, construction costs have increased dramatically (see attachment A) and several adjustments have been made based on the site conditions and actual design of the facility.  As a result of the final design, on August 31, 2006 five bids for the project were received with prices ranging from $4,600,000 to $4,746,000.  Based on these bids, staff now projects the total cost of the facility, including design, construction and building equipment to be $5,945,300.  The primary reasons for this increase are listed below.




Goal One: Enhance the Quality of Life for all Citizens.

Goal Three:  Develop Policies and Infrastructure to Address the County’s Growing Needs




The project bids have exceeded the budgeted amount due to four main factors:


1.         UVA DRC design requirements increased exterior materials costs

Because the station is in UVA’s Research Park, the building’s exterior was designed to meet UVA’s Design Review Committee requirements.  Staff estimates that UVA’s DRC requirements impacted the budget by approximately $600,000.


2.         The addition of dorm rooms and study areas to attract live-in volunteers increased the building’s square footage by 557 sq. ft.

Volunteer members are needed to help the staff the Northern Station. The addition of four live-in dorm rooms will attract additional volunteer staff and will help to avoid the cost of hiring three career staff at approximately $180,000 annually.


3.         Parcel terrain challenges increased site work costs

The proffered parcel required significant site work due to the slope of the lot, location of an adjacent wetland area, storm water management issues, and buffer requirements.  These issues were more significant than normal because a new road will need to be constructed by the UVA Foundation to provide site access.  This road will eventually become part of the County’s planned parallel road system identified in the Comprehensive Plan and the work currently underway in the Places 29 Master Plan.   


4.         Market demand increased cost of building materials

Since the revised 2003 estimate, construction materials have increased substantially. The increase in cost is attributed to the 2005 hurricane season compounded with the rapid, unexpected rise in cost for cement, steel, iron, copper, asphalt, petroleum, and the booming housing market.  Experts quoted in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal have indicated that construction spending has risen 30% to 40% in the past 18 to 24 months alone.  Further information on cost increases is provided in attachment A.   


The Staff has identified several options available to the Board of Supervisors when considering this shortage of funding.  It should be noted that in today’s construction environment, projects that are delayed experience a cost escalation of 0.75% per month.  In real terms, a $4.6 million project will see a cost escalation of $34,500 each month.


o        Negotiate with the low bidder to make changes where possible without impacting the overall program for the building.  The County’s architect has estimated that there may be a savings between $90,000 and $140,000.  This will have a schedule impact of about three months.  Because we currently have active bids, we believe this can be done without the monthly escalation in cost, if this process begins immediately.

o        Value engineering by an independent professional.  Our architect has estimated a savings of approximately $300,000 to $400,000.  This process would have a schedule impact of six to eight months and require additional review by the UVA Foundation Design Review Committee and the County ARB.  If the footprint is altered it will also require another review by Community Development staff.  There would also be a cost of hiring an independent firm for this work.  Based on the six to eight month delay, this could result in an estimated net savings of approximately 90,000 to 190,000, excluding the cost hiring a value engineering consultant.

o        Reduce the program requirements.  This will impact the schedule by nine to twelve months, and require the full blown review process as dictated above.  Any savings realized will need to be reduced by approximately $270,000 to $360,000 because of expect cost increases over the time period.  This option will also involve a significant delay in service and consideration of changing major components of the project.  If this option is selected, staff will need direction on which components of the project to remove.

o        Award to the low bidder.  To fully fund this project as designed and bid, an additional $2,245,800 would be necessary to cover all project costs and provide a modest contingency of 7.5%, increasing the total project budget to $5,945,300.




The ultimate budget impact will depend on the option selected by the Board, as outlined above. 




That staff negotiate with the apparent low bidder in an attempt to save costs where quality and long term maintenance will not suffer, nor redesign the project that would require additional reviews by the UVA Design Review Committee, County ARB, or County Community Development Department.




Attachment A – Memo from George Shadman, Escalating Construction Costs

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