Construction costs for the City Springs project have been set in stone at a maximum of $180,057,353 by Holder Construction in a deal approved by the Sandy Springs City Council.

A new illustration of the main theater planned in City Springs’ performing arts center.

A crowd of about 45 people showed up before the council meeting Feb. 16 to see the latest designs of the City Springs project’s performing arts center and open spaces. The images included a smaller “studio theater” that will double as the future City Council chamber.

“The space is clean and modern in its depiction, as opposed to a traditional government center look,” said project architect George Bushey.

“I’m looking forward to getting it finished and sitting in one of those balcony seats one day,” said City Councilman John Paulson, referring to images of the future arts center’s main theater.

City Springs is under construction on Roswell Road at Johnson Ferry Road and Mount Vernon Highway. Intended as the heart of a new downtown district, City Springs will include a new City Hall, a performing arts center, privately built multifamily housing, retail space and various types of public parks. The complex is still slated to open in late 2017.

Holder was able to begin building the project months before the final construction costs were set thanks to a method called “construction manager at risk.” The $180 million cost includes Holder’s fee. The city has budgeted nearly $223 million for the project, which includes some reserves as well as some tax money the city is seeking state permission to use in upgrading the design.

Holder will stick to its “guaranteed maximum price” by shrinking some budget line-items while increasing others, a process that is already happening. Holder recently boosted some costs to improve the future City Hall’s security and added a “rose petal ceiling” to the performing arts center lobby, according to a budget presentation by City Manager John McDonough.

Among the items “deferred” to free up funds is a park planned on a triangle of land across Roswell Road, where vacant storefronts and Magic Mike’s auto shop now stand. The park and a related plan to turn part of it into a traffic roundabout are already stalled due a state agency declaring Magic Mike’s as historic.

By removing the park’s line item for now, Holder gets $2.5 million to spend elsewhere on City Springs.
But that park deferral is a tweak, not a permanent cut.  “We fully intend to do that project,” McDonough said. The funds, he said, likely will be restored in coming months when some other line item shrinks.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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