Plans Tweaked for Hunters Point Library After Bids Run Millions Over Budget

By Jeanmarie Evelly on February 27, 2014 3:21pm 

 The planned Hunters Point Library, designed by architect Steven Holl.
The planned Hunters Point Library, designed by architect Steven Holl.
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STEVEN HOLL ARCHITECTS

LONG ISLAND CITY — The city is tweaking plans for a waterfront branch of the Queens Library in Hunters Point after construction bids for the facility, which has a number of expensive design elements, came in millions of dollars over budget, library officials said.

Construction of the new branch, which was scheduled to start this past fall, hit a snag after bids put out by the city's Department of Design and Construction came in ranging from $33 to $42 million, significantly more than the project's $23 million construction budget. The overall budget for the project was $28.6 million including design, outfitting and DDC management fees.

In a letter sent to The Friends of Hunters Point Library on Jan. 27, Queens Library president Thomas Galante — who has been under fire recently over questions about his salary — said the budget discrepancy was due in part to the "complexity" of the designs for the building, conceived by well-known architect Steven Holl.

In addition to a $750,000 geothermal heating and cooling system, designs for the branch also included a $1.4 million aluminum facade and custom interior fixtures.

Changes include using a more traditional heating system, replacing the facade with concrete and metallic paint that would give a similar finish, and using standard interior fixtures.

But the anticipated 21,000-square-foot library, planned for Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue, will still include an outdoor amphitheater, a 150-seat ground floor community room and an outdoor reading garden as well as areas for children, teens and adults, officials said.

The planned design tweaks are estimated to shave as much as $4.7 million off the project, Galante wrote.

The library and the DDC are modifying the plans to lower costs, though Galante stressed the changes won't affect the overall look of the project.

"None of the design changes have a significant impact on the overall esthetics, the size, the footprint or square footage of the building," he wrote.

A new timeline for when construction will begin has not been set, according to a Queens Library spokeswoman, who said it will depend on the results of the next round of bids put out by the DDC.

The DDC developed a "new and more extensive list" of contractors for bidding, and is expected to issue the new bids by March and to receive them back sometime this spring, Galante wrote.

He warned, however, that is it "realistic to anticipate there will be a significant gap remaining," and said the library will be looking for additional funding sources.

"I want you to know that the Queens Library is 100 percent committed to working with you and all our partners to see this important project completed," Galante's letter read. "We know the Hunters Point community deserves a world class library."

The DDC did not immediately comment.

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