The city of Merced officially decided it will demolish the old Merced Sun-Star building and build a new police station from the ground up, which is the more expensive of two plans proposed by city staffers.
The City Council unanimously approved the plan to spend an estimated $17.2 million to raze the building, a plan that is $4 million more expensive than retrofitting the existing structure, according to a presentation by city staffers.
Councilwoman Jill McLeod was absent from the meeting.
The less expensive plan would gut the building at 3033 G St. and make the mandatory improvements for earthquake and other standards, staffers said. The city has discussed putting a sales tax measure on the November ballot that would ask voters to support paying for the new station.
A consultant for the city, Ben Faircloth of CYS Engineers Inc., said refurbishing a building comes with unforeseen costs and recommended that city leaders go with the demolition plan. He said the numbers were misleading, and, in his experience, retrofitting a building is not much cheaper than knocking it down and building from scratch.
Merced City Council unanimously approved the purchase of the Merced Sun-Star building for $1.62 million in August, with plans to lease it back to the news company for a year at $2,500 a month, according to city staffers.
The 5.5-acre site was owned by McClatchy, the Sun-Star’s parent company. McClatchy is eager to relocate the Sun-Star into more modern quarters and is actively assessing potential sites in Merced, company leaders have said.