Future site of new library, 209-215 W. Washington Street
Although the City of San Diego bought the site for the new Mission Hills/Hillcrest branch library in 2003 for $2.1 million and funding was finally completed in May 2014, construction is not yet ready to begin.
Councilmember Todd Gloria's spokesman Adrian Granda said April 26 that “an open bid for contractors was conducted in February, and the award process is ongoing. Once a contractor is selected, the facility will have to be designed and we expect construction to begin in June of next year.”
However, city public information officer Nicole Darling clarified the status of the long-awaited new library branch. It narrowed down to a “short list of qualified design-build firms that would compete to complete the library design, using community input already received, and then construct the library. Three bids were submitted by the close date of March 3, 2016,” said Darling's statement.
The stated project cost was $20,250,500 in 2014. The cost as of April 2016 is now reportedly $17,848,000. It's not known if costs will rise due to inflation.
Darling said the project is “on schedule. The project is currently in the Bid & Award Phase, with the design-build contract work anticipated to start in September this year (2016). Construction completion is anticipated in July 2019.”
Leo Wilson, chair of Uptown Planners, said he is “not surprised by the delay. I actually would have been surprised if there was not a delay. All city projects seem to move at a snail's pace; there is always a bureaucratic bottleneck of some sort.”
In the official minutes of the July 2014 Uptown Planners meeting, councilmember Todd Gloria's staffer Anthony Bernal indicated that “it was considered important to move the project forward in an expedited manner.” Wilson confirmed that his “impression from the meeting was that the project would move forward quickly at the request of the private donor.”
The new library will be a one-story, 14,500-square-foot structure over a 37,800-square-foot, two-story underground garage. The architecture is Craftsman-inspired, and will be LEED-certified. The site — the former union hall of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — at 209-215 W. Washington Street, is bounded by Front Street on the east, an alley on the west, and Florence Elementary School on the south.
The building will replace the small Mission Hills Branch Library (built in 1961) at 925 W. Washington Street. Janet Zweig, LLC, was awarded a $280,000 contract to design, fabricate, and install public art in the new branch.
“The design [by Architects Mosher Drew] is currently at 30 percent complete, based on community input,” Darling said.