Bothell moves ahead with Crossroads Project

Bothell officials are moving forward with their plans to revamp State Route 522, as well as launch the building of a new municipal complex.

And officials contend they are taking advantage of the current economic climate, with bids for various pieces of the work coming in considerably lower than estimated.

For Phase II of the SR 522 or Crossroads Project, the city had estimated spending about $4.9 million. According to information provided by the city, the lowest complete bid was well below that figure at $1.9 million.

All in all, Mayor Mark Lamb said six out of seven of the Crossroads bids were below the city’s estimate. Council awarded Hos Brothers Construction of Woodinville the contract for the work, slated to begin next month.

The Crossroads Project aims to shift the alignment of 522 one block south from Hall Road to the 102nd Avenue Northeast Bridge. Completed earlier this month, Phase I consisted of the demolition of a number of vacant businesses that once stood in the way of relocating 522.

City documents say Phase II of the work will concentrate on site preparation, removal of hazardous soil and other work related to preparing the area to eventually become home to a new, major thoroughfare.

Phase II work is expected to begin in August and be completed by December.

At the same time it approved the contract for Phase II of the Crossroads Project, council also OK’d an $87,503 pact with a separate firm for Phase II inspections.

Projected to take place between spring 2011 and fall 2012, judging from city plans, Phase III will consist of actual construction of the new SR 522.

Even as they move the Crossroads work forward, local officials also are inching closer to construction of a new city hall. Lamb said the city plans on utilizing a fairly unique way of funding the new structure, which is slated — at least for now — to rise in 2012. Totaling $1.3 million, design funds were included in Bothell’s 2009-2010 budget.

Moving forward, the city hopes to use what is referred to as 63-20 tax-exempt debt to build the new city hall. The funding method is named after the Internal Revenue Service rules that allow the method.

Essentially, the city will bypass the usual process of advertising the project for bid and awarding a contract to the best bidder. Lamb contends the approach will help give Bothell and its taxpayers the best deal and best building possible.

According to Lamb, the 63-20 method gives the city a much greater degree of oversight on the project, handing local staffers day-to-day involvement with the project as it moves forward. He said the funding scheme protects the city against getting burned by contractors who might want to cut corners or not use the best materials available.

“It gives the city a better project, a better building for a better price,” Lamb stated.

According to city documents, 63-20 funding allows a nonprofit entity to issue tax-exempt bonds on behalf of local governments. That entity is often set up by the government entity selling the bonds. Again, according to the city, the nonprofit would contract with a private firm for design and construction of the project. The nonprofit then leases the building to the government entity that sold the construction bonds, in this case the city of Bothell. When those bonds are paid, the government entity takes ownership of the building.

The city states some 63-20 advantages include a better building, built more quickly and at a lower cost, up to 25 percent lower than the usual bid/award process. Documents state the 63-20 method potentially could move the start date for new construction ahead one year from 2012 to 2011.

Further, under the different approach, construction is based on a maximum price that can’t be exceeded easily, cutting down on change orders and, presumably, cost overruns. In a normal bid/award process, the city would pay for construction as that construction moves forward. Under the 63-20 arrangement, Bothell wouldn’t pay anything until the building is completed.

After approving contracts for the Crossroads work, Bothell councilmembers also voted to award a $220,000 agreement with Public-Private Development Solutions of Edmonds to help officials take advantage of the 63-20 funding option. According to the city, the next step is a request for qualifications from would-be center designers. Those requests should go out this month.

• Developers and architects attended the city's pre-submission briefing July 27 at the University of Washington, Bothell North Creek Center. Earlier this month, Bothell released a request for quotation (RFQ) for development of the civic campus. So far, the city has received more than 170 inquiries about the project.

The RFQ seeks qualified development teams to plan, design, develop and construct the existing City Hall site. All RFQ responses are due Aug. 18. Developer finalists selected pursuant to this RFQ will be allowed to prepare and present a request for proposal (RFP). The RFP will be published in September.

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