Three teams of architects and contractors submitted formal designs for a new Washington State Patrol building near the Capitol last week, and now a Senate Republican budget plan proposes to kill the entire $82 million project.
Sen. Jim Honeyford, the Sunnyside Republican who chairs the capital budget process, said Monday that the project was started last year on a promise of keeping tenant costs to no more than $26 per square foot per year.
House Capital Budget chairman Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, says costs now are pegged as high as $30.79 per square foot. He said the increase is entirely his mistake; he assumed too low debt-service costs on the $69 million portion of the project that’s being financed.
Interest rates are more likely to be 4.5 percent than 3.5 percent, Dunshee said — and that’s a project killer for Honeyford.
“He had committed that if they didn’t do the $26 (target) by the end of January, the project was dead” Honeyford said bluntly. “They haven’t made it. I’m keeping him at his word.’’
News of Honeyford’s decision in the Senate’s capital-budget proposal drew a quick rebuke from Democratic Sen. Karen Keiser of Des Moines, ranking minority member on the Senate construction budget.
The project at 1063 Capitol Way was seen as a way to let the State Patrol out of an aging building that needs to be torn down or else receive extensive upgrades — including seismic reinforcing and new fire-sprinklers and water pipes.
Keiser said “this budget withdraws the agreedupon funding for the 1063 project to consolidate our scattered State Patrol offices into a single, cost-efficient headquarters in place of a derelict property along (Capitol) Way. Given that this project was estimated to save $750 million over the 75-year life of the building and create roughly 800 jobs, I consider it penny-wise and pound-foolish to not make that investment.”
But Honeyford said it is his “hard position” not to go forward with the project. Last June he’d agreed to go forward with it only with reservations — and cost limits.
Asked what he would do now, Honeyford suggested renovating the building that covers half of the block. That is the same site Dunshee’s plan would demolish — along with an adjacent parking garage — to make way for the new State Patrol headquarters.
Honeyford said a portion of the agency could move into the renovated structure, while other parts could move into leased space elsewhere.
“The (State Patrol) want 85,000 square feet and want to consolidate everything. I don’t know if that is necessary” Honeyford said.
State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins was caught off guard by the news, saying that a reporter’s call was the first he’d heard of stopping the project. Calkins had assumed the next step would be a community meeting on March 19, when all three finalist bidders would be available in Olympia to explain their proposals to the public.
Dunshee said in an interview that the state needs to demolish its General Administration building, where the State Patrol now is housed along with offices for several smaller state agencies or commissions.
A state consultant in December 2012 said it would cost more than $124 million to renovate or about $161 million to replace the GA building, which was built in 1954 and needs upgrades, including a fire sprinkler system that concerned local fire inspectors as long ago as 2008.
Dunshee then proposed the new building for the State Patrol and other agencies on a full city block facing Capitol Way on the edge of the Capitol Campus. He said it would provide a cheaper way to move the agency and knock down the GA than other alternatives.
“The Patrol must move out of the deteriorating GA building” Dunshee said. “Not only Patrol members, but when the building systems fail, the public also will be at risk as Patrol mission is compromised”
Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688 email@example.com