Real Estate Column

Loveland library in renovation home stretch

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By Molly Armbrister
September 9, 2011

LOVELAND - The Loveland Public Library is getting a serious makeover, one that it needed in a serious way.

The $8.1 million project on the library, at 300 N. Adams Ave. near Civic Center Park, began last September and has added a total of 24,700 square feet to the existing library space, which encompassed a total of 32,600 square feet prior to the renovation.

The public gained access to some of the additional space in August, but there's still a lot of work to be done before the building is ready for its grand reopening in February.

Studies on the library completed earlier in the decade showed that the building was beyond its space and programming capacity, increasing the need for renovation with each passing year. The original plan for the renovation, proposed in 2008, came with a $9.4 million price tag, and was expected to be completed no sooner than 2014.

According to Loveland City Council, the project could only happen if a capital campaign produced $2 million in funding. The Friends of the Loveland Public Library Foundation Inc., took up the challenge with a fundraising campaign that began in early 2009.

The fundraising was set to begin just as the economy took a turn for the worse, according to George Franke, co-chairperson, with Rose Anne Wheeler, of the capital campaign committee and former president of Friends of the Library. The foundation, whose mission it is to support the Loveland Public Library as the information center for the community, already had everything in place to execute the plan, so they went forward with it despite the troubled economy.

"City council and administration felt confident that we would accomplish our ($2 million) goal," Franke said.

So much so that the city issued permits for construction to begin in September 2010, although the foundation did not hand city council a check for $2 million until this July.

"It was a challenge when we started, but we're excited that we achieved our goal," Franke said.

Friends of the Library raised the money through a combination of donations from various foundations and organizations known to be interested in supporting local institutions, Franke said.

The organization also held events that made the community aware of the project and the work involved with making the renovation possible. There was a great deal of support from both the residents of Loveland and city government.

"In such a difficult economy, the results of the capital campaign have been remarkable," said Ken Cooper, facilities manager for the city.

Quarter of costs covered : That $2 million was enough to cover 25 percent of the construction costs associated with the project. The down economy worked in the project's favor when bids came in significantly lower than projected.

Fort Collins-based Dohn Construction is the general contractor handling the project, based on designs by Belford-Watkins Group, also of Fort Collins.

The first steps of the project involved the removal of 70-year-old oak trees. Loveland-based Rocky Mountain Tree Service preserved two of the largest tree trunks, which were turned into a board room table for the library.

The construction phase was next, with structural steel for the addition going up during the winter months, followed by interior work on the new space during the spring and early summer.

The addition phase of the project was finished in early August, with the public gaining access to the new space Aug. 15.

Construction is still under way, with the entire north half of the building out of commission. Work on the north portion of the building is scheduled to be completed by the end of October, at which point the south half of the building will become the focus of the project.

Phase three is expected to last from early November through the end of December. A grand reopening celebration will be held in mid-February, marking the end of the 16-month project.

It is anticipated that three full time-equivalent positions will be added to staff the newly renovated library, according to Rod Wensing, Loveland assistant city manager.

When completed, the building will be LEED certified, Cooper said, the first LEED certified building in Loveland. It will achieve at least silver status, but has the potential to become LEED gold certified, he added.

The library was originally opened in 1987 and has undergone renovations only one other time since then. A small remodel in the mid-1990s added administration space to the northeast corner of the building.

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