Town gets to work designing a hall of its own

Board reviews proposals from firms to turn former Falls Road auto shop into a seat of government


Ozaukee Press staff

The Town of Grafton is inching closer to having a new town hall.

The Town Board last week reviewed two proposals for design and engineering services for a new town hall, one from New Horizon Ventures of Grafton and the other from Abacus Architects of Milwaukee.

Although the board did not take action, Town Chairman Lester Bartel said the town is negotiating a contract and is expected to take action on it in the next couple of weeks.

The new hall will be created by remodeling an existing building on the northwest corner of Port Washington and Falls roads.

The building at 1220 Falls Rd. had been occupied by Auto Composites, which builds auto bodies and parts for high-end vehicles but moved to a new site on North Port Washington Road, Bartel said.

The town plans to renovate the building, creating offices on the east end, a town hall in the center and using the western portion either for storage or as a rental property, Bartel said.

Currently, the town rents the western part of the building to Michaels Corp., which is working on the I-43 construction project, for $3,000 a month.

“It covers our holding costs,” Bartel said, adding that when Michaels leaves, the town may seek another tenant.

Bartel said Abacus Architects had made a presentation to the board a couple months ago, but the board decided to hold off any action until getting other bids to ensure the process was competitive.

In its proposal, New Horizon said its fee for architectural and structural engineering work to prepare construction documents would be $16,500.

Abacus Architects did not give a flat fee, but linked its fee to a percentage of the construction cost — 8.65% if the project costs $400,000, 8.5% if the cost is $500,000, 8.35% if it’s $600,000 and 8.2% if it’s $700,000.

“Abacus Architects Inc. has a very good head start on your project,” the firm stated in its proposal. “We have already drawn your existing building in our 3-dimensional model program, visited the site several times and have even started to design your future town hall.”

While it may take the town a few weeks to hire an architect for the project, just getting to this point has been an exercise in patience.

The town is currently renting space in the village for its town hall, but has long been working to find a home of its own.

“This has been in the works for 25 years,” Bartel said.

It initially purchased a 3.8-acre property at 2315 N. Port Washington Rd., but the cost of building a town hall there came in at $2.3 million, Bartel said.

“That is way beyond what we were planning to spend,” he said, noting the town’s budget for the project was $1 million.

The town is now in the process of dividing the property into three parcels of about one-acre each and marketing them.

There’s been some interest in the lots, Bartel said, noting that one backs onto Fire Ridge Golf Club and one has an existing house on it.

“The house is sound, but it’s dated,” he said. “It would be a great buy for someone young who is willing to put the elbow grease needed into it.”

He added that the town is working to add a shared driveway that he said is expected to pique interest in the lots.

But in the meantime, the town purchased the property at 1220 Falls Rd. for $625,000.

The town has been tucking away funds to help mitigate the cost of the town hall and currently has about $250,000 in that account, Bartel said.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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