- The design for the new Silver Spring Library includes a lot of glass (Image: The Lukmire Partnership, Inc.)
There will be two groundbreakings in Silver Spring next week for two major projects that are both around $3 million over budget.
The Fillmore is safe; there just happened to be some extra public money around to fill the gap. But planners are now trying to figure out a way to reduce the $32 million library project by $3 million before the construction contract is awarded.
The library project is much more ambitious than the $11.2 million, 23,000-square-foot Fillmore. The library on the corner of Wayne Avenue and Fenton Street could be 112,000 square feet and seven stories tall. Plans include a coffee shop, a Metro platform to accommodate the future Purple Line, county offices, meeting rooms, and artist studios on the first two floors.
Now everyone is faced with making some cuts. Nix county office space on the sixth floor? Doing that also means cutting potential future library space. Separate the art studios? Move the meeting rooms to lower levels? Eliminate an entire floor? What about that three-story escalator?
Not so fast. Thursday night, residents made clear that one feature they want to retain is the escalator that faces the street in the nearly all-glass building.
Jim Polk of the Silver Spring Friends of the Library told planners that “the whole community is saying it’s an important design feature.”
“This library is going to be used for a very long time, so we should make sure we build it properly,” Library Advisory Committee chairwoman Kathlin Smith said.
David Dise, director of the Department of General Services, now says the escalator is safe. He also believes there are other ways to bring down costs, other than cutting entire floors. The current building market means construction companies are taking on projects for lower prices than ever before.
“One man’s recession is another man’s benefit,” Dise told the residents.
Much of the money that saved the Fillmore came from just such savings. The White Oak Community Recreation Center went to bid in April, and the contract ended up being nearly $2.4 million under budget. It was a nice chunk of money that ended up covering the Fillmore’s funding gap.
So why not move the excess White Oak money to the library instead? Dise says it’s not that simple: the Fillmore and the White Oak projects were both recreation centers, so money can be moved between them. But this is a library, and recreation funds can't be transferred to a library project quite so easily.
Dise and his team have a lot of work on their hands. The library’s groundbreaking is set to take place at 10 a.m., Monday. Crews would then spend ten months clearing the site and putting utility lines underground. Then, building construction begins and will continue for about two years.
But the design has to be finalized in two to three weeks. Dise isn’t too worried, though.
“I’m confident we’re going to be able to bring this within budget,” he says.