Sunnyvale adds more options to consider for civic center redesign

by VICTORIA KEZRA | vkezra@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: August 3, 2017

The city of Sunnyvale is considering moving the NOVA job center into city hall and expanding the Department of Public Safety building as part of an ongoing quest to redo its civic center.

The city council voted 6-1 at its July 25 meeting to direct city staff to prepare alternatives for a civic center master plan that could see NOVA Workforce Services move into a new city hall building and build a two-story addition to the DPS building.

Council also voted for staff to evaluate putting a dedicated emergency operations center either in the DPS addition, the new city hall or at an an off- site location such as a fire station.

The council vote was the latest in a two-decade quest by the city to update
its 24-acre civic center, parts of which are 50 years old. The center includes the library, city hall, the public safety building, open space and various city offices such as the annex that houses NOVA.

The current DPS building was completed in 1985 and is 45,000 square feet. According to staff, Sunnyvale’s population has since grown from 106,000 to 150,000 and public safety staff has grown from 234 to 283.

A 2015 civic center feasibility study indicated DPS needs an additional 12,000 square feet. High priorities include a dedicated emergency operation center, more evidence storage, bigger locker rooms, more interview rooms, an expanded crime lab and lobby renovation.

A two-story, 11,000-square-foot addition will be included as an alternative in the master plan. It could be built to the north of the existing DPS building in a parking area. The new addition would cost $18 million, according to the presentation given by architecture SmithGroupJJR, and would not disrupt the functionality of the building during construction.

The council also debated whether renovating the NOVA building would be better than moving it elsewhere. The cost for renovating the existing building was estimated to be $8.1 million, according to a staff report.

Moving NOVA to a new city hall building would cost between $11.3 million and $13.5 million.

According to the architect’s presentation, the city hall annex where NOVA is located was built in 1970 as a public safety building. Renovations would be needed to bring the building up to seismic and energy codes, according to the presentation.

Renovating the building wouldn’t give NOVA the additional space it is requesting to host its growing programs. Only 10,200 net square feet of a requested 11,530 net square feet would fit in the current building, leaving no space for a staff room or storage.

Councilman Larry Klein cast the lone dissenting vote. He said he agreed with moving NOVA into a new city hall building, but was more concerned that building an addition for public safety rather than building an entirely new building was a stop-gap solution.

“The building there has lasted 30 years. We’re talking about throwing in $18 million for 15 years and then maybe having to do something (else),” he said.

Mayor Glenn Hendricks supported both recommendations and stressed that the master plan was still being worked on, and that having these options would provide the city with more information.

“I think this is where we are taking a lot of input and narrowing down,” said Hendricks. “We need to go ahead and get more detail about what some of these options look like to make hard decisions.”