The Hanford Reach Interpretive Center project might be too big and too expensive, and it might have to go back to the drawing board, according to a cost analysis done by Lockheed and Mission Support Alliance.
The Richland Public Facilities District Board learned Monday that the only way to cut dollars out of the 58,000-square-foot center planned for the west end of Columbia Park is to start over with a more modest concept.
"You have to go with a clean sheet of paper," advised Dave Ruscitto, chief operations officer for Lockheed/MSA.
Ruscitto said the review team spent a lot of time preparing "a snapshot of costs going forward."
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The team said the current design by Jones & Jones for a 58,000-square-foot facility at$19 million in construction cost appears reasonable, based on the features that would make it a regional attraction on par with something like Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland.
But Ruscitto said a more affordable facility could be built for a third less -- about $12 million, or $325 per square foot -- if the board would consider getting away from a design incorporating high ceilings, laminated beams and broad open spaces.
The finished product, while not as showy as a regional attraction facility, would cost about $207 per square foot and be designed more like a local public municipal building, such as a library or high school.
Depending on the interior treatment, the center could approximate something like the McNary Dam Visitor Center and Fish Ladder or the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City.
The big loss in going back to the drawing board is the $5 million already spent on the current design, including the work expended for the Columbia Point site, which had to be abandoned.
Ruscitto said a redo of the Jones & Jones design would involve too much work and added expense. It would be better to start over, he said.
"I know this is not as positive as you hoped for," Ruscitto said in discussing five options. Three involved using some form of the Jones & Jones design for a regional attraction, which is 95 percent ready. Two less-costly possibilities involve scaling back the interpretive center and using a different design firm.
Board members accepted the news as inevitable.
"It is obvious we can't do one, two or three," said board member Steve Simmons.
Board member Rick Jansons agreed the Reach's budget can't support the three most expensive options.
Board chairman Fred Raab said that whatever decision is made will have to come after the board determines how much money can be raised.
A full report on the budget will be discussed at the July 16 meeting, with July 30 set as a workshop for taking comments from the public, donors and partners about why the project has to change.
Lisa Toomey, CEO for the Reach, said the board needs public feedback to try to come up with realistic numbers, so it can size the project to fit.
"It is important to hear from them because whatever decision we make, (we want them to) support," she said.
Also Monday, the board voted unanimously to recommend the Richland City Council reject a bid from Apollo to do the site preparation work on the property located west of Edison Street.
Apollo's bid was $1 million higher than the engineer's estimate and was the only bid received.
Simmons said in his motion to turn down Apollo's based bid of $3.4 million, which was 36 percent higher than expected, that there was no way to determine if it was a fair bid.
-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org