Development costs are through the roof across the Peninsula, and it's taking a toll on school district plans for new auditoriums at Crittenden and Graham middle schools, as well as a new track and soccer field and improvements to the Crittenden Sports Center.
The price tag on the new facilities is $55.7 million -- more than $3 million over-budget, based on a cost estimate of the schematics. The project will have to be redesigned and scaled back to fit with the budget, according to Terese McNamee, chief business officer at the Mountain View Whisman School District.
The development projects in question are phases two and three of the Measure G bond measure, which voters passed in 2012 to repair, upgrade and expand school facilities in the Mountain View Whisman School District. The district reports that the project will likely be 7 to 10 percent over budget.
At the school board meeting last week, project manager Todd Lee told the board that construction costs on the Peninsula are very high, and Santa Clara County is one of the most volatile counties in the United States in terms of construction and development. Electrical costs in particular are through the roof. Todd said the bids are coming in about 45 percent higher for electrical work on the facilities.
"There are no electricians in any of the union halls in any of the 13 Bay Area counties right now," Lee told the board. "We're importing them from out of state."
Lee said there is no justification for the exploding costs other than market conditions, but they cannot ignore it going forward with the Measure G budget.
When asked about overall construction prices in Mountain View, Lee said it was up almost 7 percent last year, and will likely hit double digit numbers for 2014.
The architects for the projects looked at the over-budget schematic a week prior to the board meeting and were able to make adjustments to square footage, building materials and "scope" adjustments to meet budget goals. Project costs at Crittenden are almost back on track, but Graham still needs changes.
Not all the changes were slight modifications. The Crittenden auditorium lobby, a covered, outdoor building, was pared back. The 1,870-square foot lobby will stay roughly the same size, but the full roof was changed into more of a patio roof with some trellis around it in order to cut costs.
The changes to the auditorium lobby alone brought down the cost of the project by over $600,000, which, when combined with the other changes, has put Crittenden plans back in line with the budget.
But confidence is still a little shaky. McNamee said even with adjustments to the scope and the design, she is still concerned about electrical bid prices pushing the project over budget again.
The third phase of Measure G will be approved in Spring of 2015, and will be constructed during 2015-16. The district is looking at PG&E settlement funds, energy grants and developer fees to offset remaining budget deficits.