The cost of building the city of Las Vegas’ courtyard for the homeless continues to climb as the “scope and site” of the ambitious project expand.
The Las Vegas City Council this week approved another piece of the puzzle, voting without discussion to increase the budget to design the facility from $752,469 to $1.3 million.
That reflects the fact that the overall construction budget to build the courtyard has grown from approximately $8.3 million to about $15 million in recent months.
Kathi Thomas-Gibson, the city’s director of community services, said the city will combine what were initially envisioned as multiple project phases into a single burst of construction to finish the 24/7 facility where the homeless can sleep and access a range of services.
“We want to do it in a single phase, rather than multiple phases. It makes it one big project, rather than several medium-sized projects,” Thomas-Gibson said.
She also noted that building material costs “have increased since we began this conversation over a year ago.”
Demolition of buildings just south of the courtyard at Las Vegas Boulevard North and Foremaster Lane is expected to begin in August, with construction slated to start in the fall.
Once the new buildings are completed, homeless residents of the courtyard will be moved there so the current site can be renovated.
CORE Construction will build the new facilities, which include a day center with movable walls and a two-story intake administration building with showers, toilets and laundry facilities.
There will be a new guest services building and outdoor, shaded sleeping area for 500 with fixtures for cooling and heating.
Fencing will be built around the facility, and a gate will be placed at Las Vegas Boulevard and Foremaster to help reduce conflicts between traffic and pedestrians.
Originally, the Brazen Architecture firm was hired to design the facility, but the city ended that contract and entered a new one with LGA Architecture in June.
“The project is really a large-scale project, so it made more sense to work with a firm that does bigger projects,” Thomas-Gibson said. “The original architect has great expertise in smaller projects.”
The project will be funded through community development block grants, except for added design costs, which will be paid out of the city’s General Fund.
LGA Architecture will now be paid nearly $1.3 million to design the project, up from the $752,469 initially set aside for design, under the amended contract.
The courtyard is now servicing twice as many people as anticipated — more than 200 a night, Thomas-Gibson said. To do that, it had to expand.
Craig Galati, principal and shareholder of LGA Architecture, said the site will ultimately be twice as big as it is now.
The design includes three permanent buildings — one on the site of the current office, one replacing the old Shannon West Homeless Youth Center and one on a parcel recently acquired by the city, just east of the courtyard.
“I hope it’s going to change lives. There’s so many people that need help down there,” said Galati, who also designed the adjacent Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada building. “It’s going to make it more efficient and more effective, but most importantly it’s going to make it so that it’s going to last.”