City Council to Weigh Office Building on Vacant PWP-Owned Lot Across from City Hall

Published : Monday, April 8, 2019 | 4:58 AM

Building a Pasadena Department of Water and Power headquarters on land it owns adjacent to City Hall is being considered under a new set of options related to possible future uses for the Pasadena YWCA building, according to a City staff report.

As part of its search for possible reuse or development proposals for the YWCA building, the City asked consultant Kosmont Companies to evaluate scenarios involving both the YWCA building and, in a new wrinkle, the vacant site owned by the City Department of Water and Power adjacent to City Hall.

“It makes sense to pursue construction of a Water and Power Headquarters building on [the vacant lot] at some point in the future; perhaps during the next economic downturn when material and labor costs are likely to soften,” was the conclusion staff drafted from an analysis by a city-contracted consultant.

The cost of rehabilitating the YWCA building is “extraordinary,” according to the Kosmont analysis, and any market-based reuse such as hotel, office, or multifamily residential, “would require the inclusion of additional building areas” to support those costs.

“A component of this analysis is an evaluation of the financial feasibility of the conversion and/or development of an office building to satisfy the City’s existing need for administrative office space,” said Kosmont in its report.

The City leases 64,000 square feet of office space in five buildings at an approximate cost of $2.4 million per year.

Developing office space on the vacant lot is feasible “if subterranean parking can be minimized and/or offsite parking available,” Kosmont noted, further stating that, “Public reuse of the Water & Power site is possible, but is estimated to initially cost 20 percent to 50 percent more per year than current City leasing costs…”

The analysis assumed a 42,500-square-foot building on the vacant lot. Water and Power currently leases 39,000 square feet to the tune of $1.67 million annually. The parcel in question is approximately 43,258 square feet in area.

Were the building constructed two years from now, its estimated cost would run nearly $31 million, according to staff calculations. The City could net a little over $27 million in a construction bond issue leaving a gap of $3.5 million to complete funding, according to the analysis.