Electric vehicle chargers likely to survive reductions in parking deck cost

·3 min read

Aug. 14—City officials and Fite Building Co. have found ways to save about $355,000 on the planned downtown parking deck, but electric vehicle charging stations will likely remain part of the project after council members resisted a proposal to eliminate them.

The proposed reductions that are expected to move forward would bring the estimated cost of the deck down to $9.53 million. The contract with the new price must be approved by the City Council to allow construction to begin.

Fite submitted the only bid for constructing the four-story, 230-space parking deck at the corner of East Moulton Street and First Avenue Southeast. The original bid for $9.88 million was almost $4 million more than city officials had originally projected. The deck is part of an agreement between the city and private developers of an 80-room Fairfield Inn by Marriott hotel that would allot 90 spaces in the deck to the hotel.

The project's architect said added features such as four retail spaces, an elevator and the EV parking spots contributed to the increase in the deck's cost. Because there was only one bidder on the project, state law allows the city to negotiate and work with the contractor on cost reductions.

Fite's Jamey Watson proposed removing four EV charging stations planned for the project to save $23,358.

However, council members were adamant at Monday's work session that the EV charging stations should remain. Councilman Kyle Pike even suggested, and other councilmen agreed, that they should add conduits for more charging stations in the future.

"One of the first things that I thought was important is the charging stations," Pike said. "I'm glad we're able to (add) conduits so we could add more charging stations in the future. Electric cars are growing popular."

President Joe Biden's infrastructure law passed last year set aside $5 billion to build a nationwide network of 500,000 charging stations linking urban and rural areas coast to coast.

Pike said he thinks the four 1,200-square-foot retail spaces planned on the north side of the deck are essential because they would produce income and help improve downtown.

"I don't know if I would have supported the parking deck as much as I do if it wasn't for the retail spaces," Pike said.

Council President Jacob Ladner and city Director of Development Dane Shaw met recently with the Building Department to go over the project and look for savings. Some of Watson's suggestions came from his subcontractors.

Most of the changes were to the structure or appearance of the parking deck. The proposed changes are:

—Change from drilled piers to H-Piles (structural beams).

—Removal of masonry from east and south elevations. Shaw said this portion of the parking deck isn't in a visible area because it will be facing an alley and it will be close to the hotel.

—Removal of waterproofing from third and fourth floor. Ladner said Tom Hill, of the Building Department, was adamant in the city department meeting that the waterproofing on these floors isn't necessary.

Watson initially included changing 136 feet of aluminum fencing to vinyl-covered chain link fencing, but he said the pricing is still not settled on this portion of his proposal.

Shaw said they initially discussed installing a pre-cast staircase instead of a designed staircase, and he was surprised to find out the designed staircase is less expensive.

bayne.hughes@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2432. Twitter @DD_BayneHughes.