Architect approved for senior center

Construction could start in fall

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 24, 2016

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Choosing a firm that’s done similar work in the area, City Council approved Partners in Architecture, of Mount Clemens, to design the plans for a $1.7 million project to renovate and expand the St. Clair Shores Senior Activities Center.

“You want the best person for the job, not necessarily the cheapest,” said City Manager Michael Smith. “One group really stood out.”

The city solicited requests for proposals from multiple design firms and received six proposals that were reviewed by a committee containing three representatives from the center, Senior Center Director Sue Fickau, Parks and Recreation Director Greg Esler, Councilman John Caron and a representative from the Building Department. During a mandatory walk-through of the center by those submitting proposals, Smith said it really stood out to them that Partners in Architecture representatives talked to members of the center and took their comments into consideration when drafting a proposal.

“It’s very important people listen to what you’re saying,” he said. “We wanted to have someone who’s going to build the seniors’ senior center.”

Michael Malone, principal at Partners in Architecture and a co-owner of the business, said the firm has done a lot of public work, from the senior center at the Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe, to the Macomb County Emergency Operations Center, to work completed in Lakeview Public Schools for its 2007 bond issue, to renovations underway now in South Lake Schools.

“We feel we know the community really well,” Malone said. “We really know the complexities of handling dollars that are associated with federal funds.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved a $1.76 million loan for the project in July 2015. The Section 108 loan can be paid off using 15 percent of the city’s annual Community Development Block Grant money over a period of 20 years. The loan has an interest rate of less than 1 percent.

Malone said the firm will listen to the city’s needs and desires and help it determine what exactly the Senior Activities Center needs. Partners in Architecture is proposing a shortened schedule, if the weather cooperates, that could have construction starting in October.

“We can go as fast as you can go,” he said. “There’s plenty of time in the schedule for reviews and approvals.”

He said the senior center will be kept open during construction. The company, he said, will act as the “owner’s representative” during construction, making sure the contractor is staying on task and the city doesn’t overpay for work.

Showing City Council examples of 3-D plans it has created for other projects, giving an idea of what to expect when the plans are completed, Malone said Partners in Architecture expects to have plans for the senior center finished in time to be back before City Council in June for site plan approval.

“This is so exciting to be at this point,” Councilwoman Candice Rusie said. “I can’t wait to see our senior center as one of those flyaround 3-D models.”

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