Lowering project expenses

Newport Beach hopes to keep the cost of the massive new civic center project on Avocado Avenue at about $105 million by downsizing the design, according to a new city report.

City officials hope to lower the project’s cost by eliminating plans for emergency operations in favor of putting the facility in the basement of City Hall. The city also will do away with photovoltaic cells planned as part of the project, and a 275-seat community meeting room has be reduced in size to 175 seats.

The city also estimates it can trim another $5.4 million through “value engineering,” or improving the function or reducing the costs of some of the project elements.

City officials hope that having a contractor build the parking structure using stock design and parts could save the city $1 million or more.

“It was just a lot of going around and fine tuning a lot of small items,” Newport Beach Mayor Ed Selich said. “A couple hundred thousand here, a couple hundred thousand there, but it adds up.”

The civic center project, which includes a new Newport Beach city hall, 16-acre park and a central library expansion could cost the city as much as $140 million, Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff told the City Council last month.

The latest vision for the Civic Center project, at 1100 Avocado Ave. in Newport Center, includes a walkway over San Miguel Drive, a 4,000-square-foot emergency operations center, and up to 17,000-square-foot library expansion and a 450-space parking structure.

Some components of the project will likely be phased in, such as the walkway over San Miguel and the library expansion.

Newport Beach hopes to take construction bids on the project next summer. Grading on the site in Newport Center could begin as soon as January, but construction would begin soon after the city accepts a bid on the project, Kiff said.

The city is betting on a down building market to get the civic center built at a lower price, he said.

“We hope to bid it in such a manner that we can take advantage of a good bidding environment and can build it for less,” Kiff said.

The Newport Beach City Council will discuss the project costs at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Newport Beach City Hall.

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