06 Soft CostsFayetteville City Council has learned that major project investments can have open-ended construction costs. The original plan for the Hay Street baseball stadium was estimated at $33 million. It ended up costing $40 million. Two years ago, council executed a construction contract for the adjacent five-story parking garage at $14.4 million. But then in June of this year, City Council agreed to increase its contribution to the construction cost for the project by $1.5 million to a total just short of $15 million.

In the council’s final meeting, as it was previously composed, members present voted unanimously to make a parking deck budget amendment of another $1.5 million to finance what are known as “soft costs” in addition to construction costs. Councilman Jim Arp was absent. Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer wrote the construction project contract and pointed out to council members in a detailed letter that there was an addendum requiring the city to also pay actual soft costs that would arise.

Bauer said the soft costs, which included engineering and architectural work, were not known at the time. Other soft costs included design work, permitting, special inspections, legal fees and other incidentals. Bauer explained that so-called soft costs are usually projected “at 15% to 30% of construction cost, depending on the size and complexity of the project.” He said the additional costs for the parking deck project were reasonable when compared to other major projects. In his letter, Bauer wrote that the soft costs for this project are less than 10% of the construction costs.

The city agreed to purchase the garage once it’s open, and that will likely be in the next couple of weeks, officials said. The structure will provide parking for a new hotel, office complex, Prince Charles apartment tenants and the general public. PCH developers have proposed to build a seven-story office building and a five-story Hyatt Hotel atop the parking garage. It would be the tallest structure in downtown Fayetteville.

This month there was a 40% turnover of City Council members. Under the current electoral system, the City Council consists of nine council members and a mayor. The nine council members are elected from individual districts, and citizens only vote for candidates running in their districts. The mayor is elected citywide. Councilmen Bill Crisp and Dan Culliton chose not to seek re-election. Jim Arp and Mayor Pro Tem Ted Mohn were defeated in what were considered upsets. Chris Davis succeeded Crisp, and Shakeyla M. Ingram won Culliton’s District 2 seat. Yvonne Y. Kinston beat Arp in the District 9 race, and Courtney Banks-McLaughlin defeated District 8’s Mohn.

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