New Central Library under budget

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June 21, 2004 // UPDATED 2:14 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

The New Central Library's construction costs are $7 million below budget, according to a recent report to the library's Implementation Committee.

Library Project Manager Rick Johnson said the savings could be attributed to a "competitive construction climate."

The project has put out more than a dozen bids on the new library and several have come in under budget, Johnson said.

"That's good news, obviously, but since we've always been ahead of the private fund-raising campaign, we still need to look at our costs and our committed funding," he said.

Library fund-raisers have set a goal of $15 million for the new Downtown library under construction at South 4th Street and Nicollet Mall. The total budget is $125 million.

To date, fund-raisers have secured $7.5 million in donations, campaign consultant Randi Yoder told the committee at its June 15 meeting. However, the group must raise another $7.5 million by November, its fund-raising target date.

The fund-raising figures troubled some on the committee, which includes Mayor R.T. Rybak and members of the City Council and Library Board.

"Do we have a core building paid for?" Rybak asked.

Johnson said that fund-raisers need to come up with at least another $2.5 million, for a total of $10 million in donations, to pay for what he calls the "basic" design plan.

He called that a proposed "worst-case scenario," stressing that $15 million remains the goal.

Johnson said the committee would have to reexamine the numbers later this year and look at trimming more expenses if fund-raising falls short of $10 million.

One amenity that might have to be put on hold is a "green" rooftop.

By August, committee members need to decide whether to move forward with a library rooftop designed to filter storm water and improve the building's energy efficiency.

The Minneapolis-based Green Institute and the city's Public Works Department have considered donating money for the project, committee members said.

Exterior work on the five-story building is expected to be complete by November, with interior work expected to start in early 2005.

Library architect Cesar Pelli recently toured the site with Implementation Committee members to take a look at how construction has progressed.

The library's foundation walls are expected to be complete by late August.

The library's grand opening is planned for spring 2006.