Avondale City Council plans to construct a new resource and senior center in Historic Avondale.
Avondale Assistant City Manager Gina Ramos Montes told the City Council during its March 5 meeting that the Care1st Avondale Resource Center has outgrown its space. She added the center’s staff and its partners have been creative about making its small space work.
“With the growth and utilization, we have outgrown the space. It’s bursting at the seams and if any of you have been there recently, it’s a hub of activity and that’s a good thing, but we’re past capacity,” she said.
The Dick and Fritsche Design Group has been working with officials to determine a new location. Staff ascertained most clients live in the Historic Avondale area, so that location would be ideal.
The project has a $9 million budget, but staff is looking for ways to trim that. Montes recommended a new joint resource and senior center because vacant land in Historic Avondale is limited. Montes said it would reduce the construction and operation cost by $2.8 million.
It would be easier for clients as well because they could use one facility instead of traveling in between two.
“I’ve had the chance to help out, sit, learn and observe the facilities and all the programs they put on,” said Vice Mayor Bryan Kilgore. “I noticed, too, they are separated and scattered. I do agree that if we put them in one building, then no one will fall through the cracks.”
Plans call for the new building to be certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a green building-rating system that provides a framework to create “healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings,” according to its website.
Kevin Kendell, project manager for the city, said LEED certification is an important designation because it assures the city a sustainable and environmentally friendly building. It also allows the city to qualify for certain programs and funding.
Mayor Kenneth Weise said he is okay with going forward with the LEED certification, but asked if certification was required. He added that adhering to its strict standards would add to the construction cost.
“There is a cost associated with that, that adds to the cost of construction. So I’m okay with going forward with LEED, but you can do LEED things in a building and not get the certification and still meet the requirements,” he said.
Weise, along with other council members, shared his concern about the size of the building. “We’re going to have a hard time finding four acres in Historic Avondale,” he said.
Council members also emphasized the need for the building to be visible to community members.
“I’m just more concerned that wherever we go it’s just a little more visible for other people in the community to see. Sometimes when it’s hidden people don’t know about it,” said councilmember Pat Dennis.
Kendall was also concerned about the square footage.
“If the council wants to plan for more growth, we can,” Kendall said. “Not only does the building include a 5-percent growth factor; the site would accommodate a 25 percent growth.”
Councilman Lorenzo Sierra shared his concern about the accessibility of the new facility. Kendall and Montes reassured him that public transportation would be available.
Next, the city and project staff will select a location and have a full discussion about funding.
In 2008, the city entered into an agreement with Care1st Health Plan Arizona to receive financial support for the creation of the Care1st Avondale Resource Center.