KINGSBURY — The estimated cost to buy and renovate a Michigan Avenue doctor’s office for a new town hall, including a new town court facility, is close to $1 million, even after town officials found ways to save $100,000 by doing some work themselves.
“We knew it was going to be a high estimate,” said Board Member Paul Bromley, who is coordinating with Highlander Engineering Services of Argyle to plan the new facility.
The board has offered $185,000 to purchase the building, located at 6 Michigan Ave., and Bromley said a review of the original $492,000 proposal for renovations and expansion was cut to $390,000, provided the town does some of the work itself.
That does not take into account the $380,000 estimated cost of adding space for a courtroom, which may or may not be necessary, depending on negotiations with the Hudson Falls Village Board.
The Town Board is making preliminary plans to move from the downtown Hudson Falls building because the Hudson River Music Hall has announced its intent to buy that structure and renovate the former Strand Theater within.
Board members are also concerned about the cost of renovations that would be necessary if they stay in the 210 Main St. building. Bromley said inspectors estimated fixing the roof would cost $80,000, and rebuilding the parapet in front of the building would cost $70,000.
“And we know we have to deal with the heating issue,” Supervisor Jim Lindsay said. “We can’t keep heating the upstairs. The heat just goes through the ceiling. But if we don’t heat it, it’s going to deteriorate.”
The second floor is part of the old theater space.
The Hudson River Music Hall has been raising funds for years to buy the building and restore the theater to the grandeur it enjoyed in the early part of the 20th century.
It’s a project, the group hopes will help rebuild downtown Hudson Falls, which is in the final stages of a major road reconstruction project.
The Town Hall building has been assessed at $175,000, and renovating it as a functioning theater would cost between $300,000 and $400,000.
Music hall Director Jonathan Newell has said the group has a $100,000 pledge from the Sandy Hill Foundation, money from other donors and obtained financing for the project from the Albany-based Community Loan Fund.
Initially, Town Board members discussed expanding Village Hall, located between Town Hall and the Hudson Falls Free Library, but initial estimates came through at $1.25 million or more.
At that point, the Strand Revitalization Committee started looking for alternatives for the town, which examined a number of possibilities and settled on the former pediatric office of Dr. Joel Solomon.
After the initial estimate for turning the building into a town hall came in at $492,000, board members started looking for ways to cut that cost.
“First of all, these estimates are using prevailing wages for workers and have overhead and profit built in,” Bromley said. “We realized there were a number of things (the town could do itself), such as parts of the demolition and the paving.”
The board was able to bring the estimate to $390,000, which, combined with the purchase price, leaves the total at $575,000.
“Nothing is carved in stone,” Bromley said, noting the original plans called for a brick front on the building. “And the hauling charges they put in were high. We can do some of that ourselves.”
He said the way construction is planned, there will be opportunities for local businesses to do some of the work. There will be separate bids for general contracting, electrical, mechanical and HVAC.
The project would result in a town hall with enough room for offices and for the public to transact business. But it does not take into account a new Town Court. One solution the board is exploring would be to share courtroom space with the village, but there has been no determination on cost for that, and it was unknown whether renovations would be required to accommodate the Town Court.
The other option is a 38-by 50-foot addition to the Michigan Avenue building, which would cost an estimated $380,000, bringing the total to $955,000.
“It’s a matter of the village deciding what the cost will be,” Bromley said. “We don’t know that right now.”
Board members noted the cost of renting space in Village Hall would eventually top the $380,000 needed to build the town’s own courtroom.
“We’ve got the numbers to look at, and we can get more information at the next meeting,” Lindsay said.
Ready to go
Newell said he had a meeting with the Sandy Hill Foundation last month, and the music hall is ready to pursue the Strand restoration project as soon as the building is available.
“They still fully believe in purchasing the building. They want us to own it and run it,” Newell said of the Sandy Hill Foundation. “We can only line up so much at this phase because we don’t own the building.”
Newell said the music hall is continuing its own concerts and is still working on the expansion of Grace Park as a community site.
Upcoming events include the hall’s third annual fundraising cruise Sept. 18 aboard The Adirondac on Lake George, the first Fall Festival at Grace Park Sept. 27, featuring live music, food and craft vendors, and the second annual HRMH at The Wood on Oct. 12.
Newell said he hopes once the sale does go through, the new facility will be known as the Sandy Hill Strand, harkening back to Hudson Falls’ original name.
“It would be a way to honor our history,” Newell said.