The paper and others make much of the argument that nothing more can be done with Brewster Hall without evacuating the place. At least two Selectmen seem to feel otherwise.
Lets look at the situation. The offices are currently housed in the four original commercial suites of the first floor. By design, they are separated from each other by solid masonry bearing walls from floor to ceiling. Those suites could easily be completely remodeled one by one by simply sealing off the doorways to the adjoining suites. There’s empty office space down the street in the Bell building where the various departments could camp out for a couple of months while their suite is remodeled.
Commercial build-out is an established, efficient and competitive industry. You’ll recall that a couple of years ago they shut down Garwoods for exactly one month, and produced what you see there today. The job involved raising the floor, new ADA bathrooms, new windows including the storefront, wiring upgrade, HVAC upgrade, and a handicap chair lift. Sound familiar? That’s just about everything they want to do to the office suites in Brewster Hall. Garwoods is about the size and shape of one of those Brewster Hall office suites.
Even at a first class $200/sq ft, about what a brand new building would cost, renovating our 6,000 sq ft of offices would cost $1.2 million. Over four years, one suite per year, that would be $300,000/year. That’s about what the first four years of this 20 year $3.2 million bond would cost at 4.5%. Then we’re done. No need to pay out another $3.5 million in principal and interest bond payments for sixteen more years.
If those spaces were occupied by various businesses as they were in the past, do you think it would be reasonable to ask all of them to move out for a year while one of the suites was refit for a new tenant? There’s no need to move out to rehab those offices and there’s no need to spend $4 million dollars to get comfortable and efficient town offices.
Last week Mr. Tougher asked how it could be done without moving out. I think this is a reasonable approach. But then, those are my own private facts.