by Peter Bodley
The Coon Rapids City Council has awarded a contract to demolish the vacant buildings owned by the city adjacent to the new ice arena.
Grand opening for the new ice center on Coon Rapids Boulevard is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1, although the arena is scheduled to open Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The council hired Amcon, a construction management firm that worked on the new Bunker Hills Golf Course Clubhouse, to handle specifications and the bidding process for the demolition project.
The buildings to be demolished under the contract are the strip retail center in which Big Lots was located, Fantasy Gifts, tobacco shop and White Castle, as well as the existing Cook Ice Arena.
AME North Inc. provided the low quote of $229,779 which was well below Amcon’s estimate of $334,000.
According to Steve Gatlin, public services director, demolition work on all the buildings except Cook Arena will begin in mid-August with the buildings razed by early October.
Because Cook Arena won’t be completely vacated until Sept. 16, demolition work won’t begin until the following week with completion by mid-November, Gatlin said.
Demolition will also include removal of the parking areas.
While the demolition project is included in the overall ice center budget, which has been paid for by the sale of lease revenue bonds which are levied as city debt service through property taxes, it is not being funded by the bond sale, he said.
Instead, the cost will come from the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) budget.
Councilmembers were pleased to see the low quote was 31 percent below the estimate, but had not heard of the firm, AME North Inc., and wanted to know if city staff and AMCON were satisfied with the bid.
According to Todd Christopherson, AMCON project manager, he had contacted AME North to discuss its bid and the project and found no areas of concern.
Mayor Tim Howe said the quotes were “all over the table” ranging from a low of $229,779 to a high of $690,000, but there was only $5,000 separating the low quote from the next lowest.
“I am very happy with the bid,” he said.
This is the second phase of the demolition process to pave the way for construction of the new ice center.
The original demolition project comprised the old Target building, which was partially occupied by Goodwill, who moved to new, larger quarters across Coon Rapids Boulevard.
That building had to be razed last year in order for construction on the new ice arena to begin.
Not included in the second-phase demolition contract are two buildings that the HRA acquired in June. They are located immediately north and northwest of the new arena.
One of those two buildings, a strip retail center, has only two tenants, who leases are about to expire.
The other building is occupied by a Firestone store which has a long-term lease and that building won’t be removed in the short-term, Gatlin said.
The Firestone operation won’t affect access to and from the ice arena, nor will Firestone’s access be impacted by the arena, he said.
The city acquired the property at Coon Rapids and Crooked Lake boulevards, on which the Coon Rapids Ice Center is being built, in 2008 for more than $5 million.
The city has sold $13.5 million in tax exempt lease revenue bonds to pay for the arena construction as well as the land acquisition, plus $1,060,000 in taxable bonds for the property the city has acquired for future sale for private development.
The annual debt service on the bond sales of $978,100 was included for the first time with the 2011 tax levy.
But deducted from that amount was the $434,824 that the city had been levying the previous two years to pay for the acquisition of the Target property, which was financed internally.
That levy disappeared with the sale of the lease revenue bonds.
The 58,000 square-foot indoor arena will have spectator seating for some 775 people, locker rooms, common area and parking for 233 vehicles.
In December 2009, the council unanimously voted to construct the new ice arena to replace the existing ice arena, which was built in 1973 and is across from Anoka-Ramsey Community College.
Peter Bodley is at email@example.com