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Nisswa City Council agrees to continue process for public restroom/chamber office building

The Nisswa City Council is proceeding with final design plans for a combined public restroom/chamber of commerce office building downtown.

Though the proposed building has doubled in estimated cost from what the council originally planned to spend just for public restrooms — to a possible $527,000 — the city would collect $800 to $900 per month from a 20-year lease with the chamber to pay for that part of the building.

The council authorized Widseth Smith Nolting to finalize the building design at a Feb. 4 special meeting, according to meeting minutes. Council member Jan Pierce was absent.

Mayor Brian Lehman said if bids came in too high the council wouldn’t have to proceed with the project.

The council originally set out to build a new public restroom facility at the site of the current building on Main Street with plans to finance an estimated $250,000-$260,000 project, as well as improvements at Nisswa City Park and the community center, with a 10- or 15-year, $500,000 abatement bond.

The chamber then asked the council to include office space in the building so the chamber could move back downtown from Nisswa Square. In December, the council said adding a chamber office could increase the bond amount to $700,000.

The council is in the process of fine-tuning the amount and what the bond would pay for, and a public hearing would be held before the city issued any abatement bond that would lock in projects.

The city has budgeted $57,000 toward a bond payment in 2013, and plans to budget yearly to pay the abatement bond.

The proposed 2,514-square-foot public restroom/chamber building would include public restrooms, family restroom, mechanical room, atrium, welcome center, chamber offices and conference room.

If all options were included — such as a metal roof, ceramic tile floor in the atrium and restrooms, and built-ins, gas fireplace and vertical blinds in the chamber portion — the estimated cost is $527,000, including 10 percent contingency funds.

Estimated cost without those options but with architectural contingencies is $446,000.

Shawn Hansen, chamber executive director, told the council that member donations would help pay for some items, such as the built-ins, landscaping and benches.

Mayor Brian Lehman said the chamber would have to pay for anything over the cost of the restrooms through the lease agreement.

A bond payment would be an estimated $64,000 per year, but would be interest only in 2013.

The council debated the need for the extra items. Council members agreed to proceed with the extra amenities, though a stub for the fireplace, to get real costs. And they stipulated a chamber lease agreement would include language for maintenance and utilities, and the chamber would be responsible for costs associated with its portion of the building.