Projected cost for new Leawood fire station increases $1 million from 2019 estimate

The council approved the original design contract in October 2016 at an estimated cost of about $4 million. A preliminary site plan shows the location of the new fire station, near the 9600 block of Lee Boulevard.

The estimated cost to build Leawood’s Fire Station No. 1 on the grounds of the former city hall building has increased to about $7 million from about $6 million in February 2019.

The roughly 17% increase resulted from inefficiencies caused by earlier delays and work involved in resuming the project, inflation and plans for a bigger building than originally envisioned, said Jeff DeGasperi, president of Overland Park-based DeGasperi & Associates, the project’s architectural firm. He estimated the project would require about a year and a half from groundbreaking to completion.

Elevation drawing of the fire station presented to the city council last year.

The station is planned to be built in and near the 9600 block of Lee Boulevard. Revised plans call for a one-story, 14,200 square foot building with a basement, four bays and living quarters for nine people, Fire Chief Colin Fitzgerald said. Earlier plans called for a three-story, 13,000 square foot building. The revised plans still include on-site exercise and locker room facilities, and a meeting and training room that could be made available for public meetings.

The council approved the original design contract in October 2016 for an 8,000 square foot building with three bays at an estimated cost of about $4 million. DeGasperi & Associates said in a Feb. 7 letter to then-Fire Chief Dave Williams that the project had been suspended about three years ago “to resolve several external factors.”

As part of its consent agenda but with some discussion, the Leawood City Council on Monday night unanimously approved increasing the firm’s design fee for the project to a maximum of about $318,000, up 28% from about $249,200. The design fee is calculated as a percentage of the construction budget. The council also approved changing the deadline for the firm to submit final design plans and construction bid specifications to May 31, 2021, from Oct. 1, 2020. City staff recommended approval of the amended contract, according to council documents.

Ward 1 Councilmember Andrew Osman said that some residents in the neighborhood behind the fire station’s site had expressed concerns about the project and that, with the council having approved the original design contract in 2016, “this is not something that we’ve backroom dealed, tried to work on in the middle of the night — that we’ve actually been forthright.”

“We’ve communicated,” Osman said. “We’ve polled residents. We’ve had work sessions with them and let them know what is going on. And in this instance, we’re adding an additional timeframe, to 2021, to try to figure out how to properly develop the fire station on the site. … So, with that, I just wanted to reiterate and put it on the record that this is public, and we have given ample notice to all the residents.”

DeGasperi praised the council, city staff and fire department for their cooperation on the project and said the city had adapted by addressing neighbors’ concerns.

“It’s right in the middle of a neighborhood,” he said. “We’re maintaining the same setbacks as the residential area has and landscaping it in the back to screen it from neighbors.”

The council decided in November 2018 not to move the former city hall building off the site.