CIBOLO — Officials are proceeding with plans to convert a 104-year-old former school building into offices for city staff and a community meeting space.
Representatives from Architexas of Austin are offering a design and estimated cost based on two concepts for the future City Hall annex.
One scenario, called Option A, restores the vacant brick schoolhouse on Loop 539 and maintains a small existing, limited-service elevator. A second choice, Option B, makes the elevator a full-sized passenger lift within an additional feature on the building’s west exterior.
In December, City Council reached a consensus on the issue: Members asked Architexas to present a revised plan combining both schemes, hoping remaining monies from Cibolo’s 2018 bond will cover the final product.
Remodeling and converting the former elementary school into an annex has been in Cibolo’s long-range plans. Architexas began design work in late 2019.
JC Stoddard, the project’s construction manager at-risk, has finished preliminary site work. Planners estimate full construction taking up the rest of the year.
Mayor Stosh Boyle said the council discussion about the endeavor was sparked by concerns that not enough progress was happening.
“We’d like to see it go at a 100% faster pace,” he said.
The edifice was nicknamed “the Whitehouse” and the “Cibolo Hilton” by locals over the years, according to the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City School District.
In recent decades, SCUCISD used the structure for its Cibolo Center Alternative Program, until donating the property to the city.
The schoolhouse currently measures 8,200 square feet, but city leaders said they need nearly 13,000 square feet.
In order to trim costs, the town and Architexas originally redesigned the structure to accommodate the city’s planning and engineering, economic development, and information-technology services.
Officials also want renovations to contain a public-meeting room available to community groups.
John Allender, a principal at Architexas, said Option A, while less expensive, wouldn’t give city staff enough space for growth.
“The intent here is to fit everything into the footprint of the existing schoolhouse without an addition,” he said of Option A at the December meeting. “The limitations … (are) the lift in the interior not being a full-passenger cab. We also feel this presents some limitation to future expansion.”
Option B — moving the elevator to the structure’s exterior — allows for more workspace, a larger break room, more bathroom footage and potential for enlargement, Allender said.
The estimated price tag for Option A is $1.56 million and Option B is $1.81 million.
Figures don’t include furnishing and equipping the refurbished facility.
However, the city has about $1.45 million in proceeds left from its $2.45 million bond, which also funded expansion of the existing Public Works building.
City Manager Robert Herrera said the town could account for the difference with a budget adjustment this fiscal year or next.
Councilwoman Jennifer Schultes said she supports approving bond work within the monetary constraints approved by voters, but the first option “is thinking small.”
“At some point, we’re going to end up doing that addition. I like how Plan B has the bigger elevator and it will eventually be a pass-through to the addition,” she said. “I don’t think Plan A is smart thinking.”
Councilman Steve Quinn concurred: “I know it’ll save us a little money, but in the long run, if we expand or whatever the case may be, we’d spend more money to get rid of the elevator to expand or whatever.”
Councilman Ted Gibbs anticipates expense overruns, so he endorsed Option A.
“I feel strongly that more costs will pop up and we need to be prepared to cover that,” he added.
Agreeing with Gibbs, Councilman Tim Woliver said the city likely will need more space for personnel, but not knowing when creates uncertainty.
He added taking away from monetary reserves could hurt Cibolo’s short-term needs.
“A $100,000 shortfall is a lot easier to make up,” Woliver said, referring to Option A.
Council members asked to see a hybrid concept for the annex and determine how cost-effective the plan could prove.
After a design is approved, the town will seek a guaranteed maximum price for construction.