Central Library asking for $5M more after a decade of construction

Construction on Austin's new Central Library in downtown Austin as of April 2016. (Courtesy: Austin Public Library)
Construction on Austin's new Central Library in downtown Austin as of April 2016. (Courtesy: Austin Public Library)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It has been 10 years since Austin voters signed off on the city’s New Central Library project and now they are asking for money.

Construction still isn’t complete and on Tuesday there will be more talks about the price tag. The library plans to ask the city council to give them $5 million more to pay for construction.

The taxpayer money has already been allocated to this project, therefore the library isn’t asking for any more outside money. Instead, they are wanting to use more of that money that’s been put aside, which needs council approval.

Timeline

It started as a $90 million bond in 2006. Seven years later, city council approved $30 million more. This year, another $5 million was approved to finish the project.

Officials say project estimates always showed the finished library would cost $125 million. If the council approves this extra $5.5 million for construction, it will hit right around that projected mark.

The facility manager John Gillum told KXAN the last decade has been nothing short of a struggle.

“We’ve encountered everything a construction project encounters… bad weather delays, hidden conditions, design errors, contractor mistakes. I think if you’ve ever renovated a house or built one this is all very familiar to you so it’s just the common challenges to a construction project that we’ve encountered,” said Gillum.

Inside City Hall on Tuesday the council will discuss the construction money. They will vote on it on Thursday.

This project is more than just a new 200,000-square-foot, six-story library. The improvements include a bridge, Shoal Creek Greenbelt Improvements, and the Seaholm Substation Art Wall. Officials say these features have added to some of the delays, but agree it will add to the overall effect of the project.

The library is also several years behind and estimate from the director of libraries. In 2006, the director Brenda Branch told KXAN she was hoping for the new library to open in 2012. Gillum said the city had other priorities and it took longer than expected to get the money for the project. He says there was also a thorough process to select an architect and other construction delays that pushed the project back.

Gillum says there will be a mediation process when the project is complete. Gillum did not rule out the possibility of penalties, known as liquidated damages, for missing project goals. However, if anyone will have to pay and who will be responsible for the penalties will depend on the outcome of the mediation.

KXAN Central Library Timeline 650x250 PNG

 

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