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Archive for Monday, April 23, 2007

Cost of Statehouse renovation creates grumbling among some lawmakers

April 23, 2007

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A worker installs new plumbing April 12 in the basement of the west wing of the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. The work is part of ongoing renovations at the Statehouse that are expected to cost more than $200 million before all phases are completed in 2011.

A worker installs new plumbing April 12 in the basement of the west wing of the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. The work is part of ongoing renovations at the Statehouse that are expected to cost more than $200 million before all phases are completed in 2011.

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— When workers finish with a Statehouse corner or wing, the results can be impressive. False ceilings disappear and ornate stenciling reappears after decades. Marble floors, once hidden under carpet, are rediscovered. Wood shines.



Statehouse renovation

Rising Costs: When legislators approved an 11-year, top-to-bottom renovation of the Kansas Statehouse, one report put the cost at between $90 million and $120 million. Current projected costs are $172 million and are likely to keep increasing.Staying Put: Other states with such projects emptied their capitols to have a shorter construction timeline and avoid inflation. They include Utah, Virginia and Washington. Kansas chose to keep its building open and work around construction.Architect Fee: Kansas is paying the architectural firm on its Statehouse project a fee equal to 11 percent of construction costs. Some legislators think that's too high, but officials in other states say it's reasonable.

But after seven years of planning and construction, the top-to-bottom renovation is impressive for another reason - its rising costs. One early report pegged the likely costs at between $90 million and $120 million, but legislators have authorized more than $172 million in spending.

Even that won't cover all costs, and Kansas could become one of only a few states to spend $200 million or more fixing its capitol. Work is supposed to be done in October 2011.

Some lawmakers think the project is out of control. "Maybe we need to call a temporary halt and re-examine our methodology and see if we can be a little more frugal," said Sen. Chris Steineger, D-Kansas City.

Last month, Steineger was among senators trying to suspend the project, though the effort narrowly failed. The project still has support from key legislative leaders, despite its rising costs, and lawmakers have authorized an additional $55 million in bonds to keep it going.

Sunflower State splurging

Officials in other states that have renovated their capitols aren't surprised by the Sunflower State splurging.

"Restoration of a capitol building is the most political of all ventures. When times are good and there is extra money in the budget and people are feeling generous, restoring a state capitol building is a wonderful idea," said Kerry Chartkoff, the Michigan Capitol historian. "Any number of horrible pitfalls can cause a quick cooling of enthusiasm for the project."

Like other states, Kansas legislators moved forward on the project because they were trying to conduct 21st Century business in a late-19th and early 20th-Century building. Kansas' Statehouse was built in stages over 36 years, starting with the east wing in 1867.

When legislators approved the current project in 2000, it had been more than 80 years since the last large-scale restoration. Mechanical systems were outdated, and lawmakers wanted bigger committee rooms and better offices.

They also got a taste of the building's lost grandeur when workers repainting the House chamber in the 1990s discovered that ceiling murals had been covered with a layer of white paint.

"The cost of the total project has always looked pretty high to me," said House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls. "On the other hand, we do have some obligation to future generations to keep the building in good condition."

Arla Jones, a high school librarian from Lawrence, expressed some of the same ambivalence during a recent trip to the Statehouse with two students. She left behind a school office with a leaky roof and wondered aloud how millions of dollars might have helped Kansas' schools in past years.

One student, 18-year-old Patrick Tomei, said: "We'll have to come back in 2011 to see if the money's well spent."

Other states

So far, Utah appears to have the most expensive capitol project, not only a restoration but an effort to protect its building against earthquakes. The project is expected to cost $212 million when it's finished in eight months, though that figure doesn't include a $15 million underground parking garage or the $45 million spent on two nearby office buildings.

In Minnesota, there's talk of a $260 million renovation, though nothing has been approved. Texas spent $187 million on its Capitol in the late 1980s and early 1990s, more than doubling its space by adding 360,000 square feet in an underground complex.

Kansas' figure - $172.5 million - covers only three of four phases. The last phase includes a renovation of the north wing and construction of a basement-level visitors' center. Also, Barry Greis, the Statehouse architect, anticipates major repairs on the building's exterior limestone.

The original cost estimate of between $90 million and $120 million was in a report issued in 2000, before the first designs were finished.

It also was before legislative leaders added the $15 million parking garage and an additional 118,000 square feet for underground offices and the visitors center. With those changes, the project will increase the Statehouse's total space by 57 percent, to more than 495,000 square feet.

The original estimate also came before a boom in construction in China drove up the prices of steel, drywall and other materials, several architects in other states said, and before Gulf Coast hurricanes created demand for some of those materials.

"In some cases, projects here in the U.S. - and all over the world - have doubled in estimated construction costs," said Barbara Campagna, architecture director for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In Kansas, Steineger would like to see Kansas' project audited, viewing it as too "open-ended," adding, "I think we need to keep talking about it."

Comments

bobberboy 6 years, 12 months ago

Do something about the capitol dome - it looks like cr@p !

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justthefacts 6 years, 12 months ago

Contact Kansas Department of Administration if you want to really know what parts of this project were done without any competitive bidding. Quite a bit (based upon the exception for things that are unique - which hand-blown lead glass globes probably are!).... Include a request for records concerning bids on and/or payments made for professional services, not just labor or parts.

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justthefacts 6 years, 12 months ago

Information posted (in the past) about the cost of this project:

From 2004: http://6news.ljworld.com/section/statebudget/story/160007 The Kansas Statehouse is undergoing renovations that already have cost $55 million in bonds. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius recommends an additional $20 million in bonds for the project.

March 2007, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4179/is_20070321/ai_n18739711 a $37 million cost overrun - so far - on renovation of the Statehouse. She proposed renegotiation of construction and architectural contracts for a project now estimated to cost $172 million and scheduled to be finished in 2011. This cost estimate excludes work on one wing of the building and construction of a visitor center.

2006 minutes from the restoration committee's meeting http://www.kslegislature.org/committeeminutes/05-06/interim_joint/taskforce/capRestoration12142006.pdf Note - comments about how consultant on costs was way off on figures. And how the architects get paid based upon the final cost of the project (a % of the total cost is what they get paid?!!). For other minutes of this committee, just google them. You'll get other pdf files. Eg http://www.kslegislature.org/committeeminutes/05-06/interim_joint/taskforce/capRestoration12192005.pdf

http://www.architectmagazine.com/industry-news.asp?sectionID=1012&articleID=480903 Eyebrows are raising at how the costs have doubled!

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formerlyKS 6 years, 12 months ago

"So this Capitol restoration will be finananced by taxing Shawnee Country residents, right? I don't have to pay for it, do I?"

Yeah right...when half of Lawrence commutes to Topeka for work every day. Perhaps Topeka should enact a local income tax for those living outside the county. Other cities, mainly in the east, do this to collect taxes from the suburbanites from small towns (like Lawrence) that feed on the larger cities and then trash them.

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ASBESTOS 6 years, 12 months ago

"This project could have been done in half the time at half the cost if they had been willing to relocated to the old SBG building that was sitting empty at the time. "

So Sorry there Sofaking_what, the old SBG building has fireproofing on the first 7 floors and it contains a pretty high percentage of aamosite asbestos.

"Asbestos, when found to be in a fryable state was abated in several areas of the building."

BUt not in all areas of the building and the areas in a major renovation would require it to be don in all renovation areas. Besides it is "firable" and not "fryable". You did not address the NF materials and the newly installed materials that woucl contain asbestos. C;lueless on asbestos and construction!!!

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"What blame exists falls, in my view, squarely on the shoulders of previous legislatures that consciously elected not to provide for the proper maintenance and care of the Statehouse."

BEST ANALYSIS and throw in the agencies that are in total meltdown and waste TONS of money!!!!

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sofaking_what 6 years, 12 months ago

Most of the work was indeed bid out to prevent people screaming about not getting competative bids...now if only one bidder submitted a bid then the onus is on the Goverment to reject the bids until they get more than 1. Its my understanding that some of the more specialty work was contracted directly but more was bid than wasn't.

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bernard 6 years, 12 months ago

Chris,

For a Democrat, you are one cheap bast--d. Of course, I'm sure you're proud of that and will use this as a quote for re-election. Shari, needs to fine tune you.

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justthefacts 6 years, 12 months ago

Any legislator who says they did not know that splurging was going on has not opened their eyes to look. To look up specifically. The hand-cut lead crystal globes in the Senate chambers are lovely - and very costly - and completely unnecessary. While taxes go up, good employees leave to get better paid jobs privately, and traditional government services get cut back, the state-house is getting more then an extreme makeover. Oh, and by the way, none of the work was bid out either - wanna bet?

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Wilbur_Nether 6 years, 12 months ago

sinedie adjourned with "This money may have been better spent fixing various state office buildings in the downtown area, which are actually 'crumbling.'" I agree the other State office buildings in historic downtown Topeka are in tragic disrepair--the Capitol Journal did a piece on them in its "Daily Dose" section on March 21. I disagree, though, that the Statehouse was in less need than the other State Office Buildings. Simply looking at the condition of the exterior and peeking behind corners was enough to reveal the severe neglect previous generations of legislatures had heaped on this building. There is argument to be made that this is the single most architecturally and historically significant building in Kansas. Certainly, it is the most politically significant building.

merrill noted "This appears more like a republican venture back in 2000 what with all of the support and cost overruns not considered." A quick consideration of the situation in FY2000 prove illuminating for how most of the cost overruns were not foreseeable: the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in September 2001, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in the meantime, the soaring increases in China's consumption of fossil fuels, etc.

The fault here is not so much one of mismanaging this project or of failure to consider potential overruns. What blame exists falls, in my view, squarely on the shoulders of previous legislatures that consciously elected not to provide for the proper maintenance and care of the Statehouse. Had they done so, this project would have cost a fraction of its ending budget.

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sofaking_what 6 years, 12 months ago

Here is the skinny from someone in the know...Tax dollars are funding this renovations. Asbestos, when found to be in a fryable state was abated in several areas of the building. The initial funding of the project (phase 1) was under the Graves admin but all remain phases have been approved and funded under Seblius. More dollars have been appropriated and spent under her than the prior admin. THe real people to blame are the legislators themselves, they refused to vacate the building. This project could have been done in half the time at half the cost if they had been willing to relocated to the old SBG building that was sitting empty at the time. As far as the building crumbling vs. other downtown topeka buildings...this one is in bad bad shape. Stones fall off daily. I've seen video from the guy doing the stone investigation and the building is literally crumbling around them. I hate to think what the stone repair is going to cost but the guy I talked to said it would go easily over 50 million...just for the exterior restoration. This project will easily hit $250 mil if not more.

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ASBESTOS 6 years, 12 months ago

How much was spent on asbestos abatement, lead abatement, etc.???

I bet they let it go here as well.

Ceiling Tiles have asbestos Mastics have asbestos drywall has asbestos,

And ASBESTOS IS NOT BANNED. IT could be in the new materials that were installed.

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sinedie 6 years, 12 months ago

This money may have been better spent fixing various state office buildings in the downtown area, which are actually "crumbling."

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Jamesaust 6 years, 12 months ago

So this Capitol restoration will be finananced by taxing Shawnee Country residents, right? I don't have to pay for it, do I?

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oldgoof 6 years, 12 months ago

Had any other state agency had such an happening legislators would be having non-stop melt-down. . And the legislature was fully aware of the Regents backlog of maintenance in 2000 too. They chose to finance the capitol renovation with smoke-and-mirrors (ending balances and debt issuances)

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 12 months ago

This appears more like a republican venture back in 2000 what with all of the support and cost overruns not considered.

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Bowhunter99 6 years, 12 months ago

What's Sebelius doing about this??????????????

Anything bad that happens in the US is blamed on Bush.... therefore we need to blame Sebelius for this one. How irresponsible of her to let this happen?

What was she doing? Was she paying back favor for her special interest buddies? Is she asleep at the wheel? How can she be so irresponsible on times like these? Why are we splurging?

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conservative 6 years, 12 months ago

I agree keith. I don't care how much they spend on the renovation as long as they decide to pay for it by taxing Topekans. If it's a good way to pay for university repairs then it must be a good way to pay for the capitol building repairs.

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Keith 6 years, 12 months ago

"The cost of the total project has always looked pretty high to me," said House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls. "On the other hand, we do have some obligation to future generations to keep the building in good condition."

Too bad he doesn't feel that way about the state's university buildings. Maybe he can suggest some extra taxation for Topeka residents to help pay the costs.

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