What was new in the presentation to the Council were estimated costs.
On the subject of cost, Thaler started out by stating that the operating costs on the five City-owned buildings--1 North Front Street is being included in the buildings to be sold--is $108,000 a year. Operating costs for JLE are set at $12,000 a year for heat, $40,000 for electricity, and $75,000 for custodial services, making the total $127,000 a year. He then said that property taxes on the five buildings, now off the tax rolls, would be an estimated $44,000 a year, and concluded that the City would break even on operating costs.
The estimated costs for rehabbing the building--depending on whether the minimal Scheme A or the more elaborate Scheme B is followed--would range from $5.4 million to $14.8 million. Add to that the cost of fixtures, furniture, and equipment and project soft costs, and the range becomes $6.95 million to $18.9 million. Add to that the purchase price, which is currently $3.95 million, and the price of the project becomes anywhere from $10.9 to $22.85 million.
Thaler then talked about ways to pay for the project. He noted that the assessed value of the five buildings to be sold--520 Warren Street, 18 South Third, 10 Warren Street, 429 Warren Street, and 1 North Front Street--was $3.4 million.
Thaler reported that the State Historic Preservation Office had indicated the building was eligible for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. He cited the famous school architects Sargent and Folley and commented that the building "hasn't really changed" since it was constructed in 1964. Presumably, it is an excellent example of Cold War school architecture, since it was designed to double as a fallout shelter. If the building were to get historic designation, the project would be eligible for historic tax credits, but to take advantage of the tax credits, the City would have to partner with a private developer.
Curious about the famous school architects Thaler mentioned, I Googled the names Sargent and Folley and discovered that a firm called Sargent, Webster, Crenshaw & Folley had also been the architects for Hudson High School, which was completed in 1972. It seems that in 1980 the Hudson City School District sued the architects for breach of contract over a leaky roof, alleging that the roofing that had been used was defective and not the type specified in the contract the district had with the architects. You can read about the case and the decision here.
Audience member Matt McGhee expressed skepticism that the building merited historic designation and opined, "I wouldn't rely on getting the status for it."
Alderman Tiffany Garriga asked if there would be an office in the building for the Council majority leader and the minority leader. (Garriga is currently the majority leader.) Thaler pointed out the Common Council meeting room adjacent to the Council Chamber, suggesting it might be used for that purpose. It might have to be used for other purposes as well, because the current plan, in which the City Hall functions "fit like a glove," does not appear to include an office for the Common Council president.