HomeCity NewsCouncil Takes Next Step Toward San MarinoCenter Project

Council Takes Next Step Toward San Marino
Center Project

First published in the Feb. 3 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

Preliminary conceptual drawings show the proposed renovations to the San Marino Center.

The San Marino City Council voted at Friday’s meeting to amend the contracts of professional design services for proposed renovations to the San Marino Center.
The amendments will increase Crane Architectural Group’s contract by $229,200 and Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Architecture’s contract by an additional $69,980. The proposals passed by a 3-2 margin, with Mayor Susan Jakubowski, Vice Mayor Steve Talt and council member Ken Ude in support of the amended fees. Claiming that cost estimates of the renovation were increasing to unacceptable levels, council members Gretchen Shepherd Romey and Dr. Steven Huang dissented.
“This should not go forward,” Shepherd Romey said when the vote was called. “We need to get things done in the right order. We need to step back and see that the community is going to get behind this. I cannot support this in any way.”
Former San Marino City Councilman Dennis Kneier also spoke during the public comment section of the meeting to relay his concerns about the costs. The same 3-2 vote has been consistent since the project was first raised in early 2020.
Plans for the project from the Crane Architectural Group are 95% complete. The city has spent approximately $420,000 on the project on designs as well as site studies, including a lead and asbestos survey.
The project was delayed and costs increased last year when the plans were changed from a Spanish Mediterranean style to a Modern Colonial theme to abate a possible issue regarding the historical significance of the 70-year-old building. Throne said the design alteration moved the change from having a “potentially significant” to a “less than significant” impact on the design.
Shepherd Romey was also dismayed that the community had not received an updated landscape plan for the project.
The city needs to spend $3.1 million simply to address the structure’s deferred maintenance issues, which includes mechanical, plumbing, electrical, disability access, roofing and other general repair issues needed to bring it up to code.
According to Michael Throne, the city’s public works director and engineer, the building requires these improvements in order to remain open on a limited basis on the premise that the renovations would take place prior to “the beginning of fall recreational activities.”
Friday’s vote triggered a new timeline for the project. A draft environmental impact report will now be presented to the public on March 1 for review and will be available until March 31. The public’s written responses to the EIR are slated to be completed by May 1 and in late May revised project drawings will be completed. At the City Council’s meeting on June 8, the final EIR is scheduled to be certified and the project will be put out for bid. If everything proceeds according to schedule, the project will be awarded to the successful bidders, with groundbreaking slated for Sept. 1.
Construction was completed in April 1952 on what at the time was the San Marino Woman’s Club, which held its first meeting in the clubhouse that month. In 2005, the building was sold to the city and renamed the San Marino Center.
In its current layout, the building can accommodate as many as 300 people and is available to rent for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other special events. The facility has three main rooms: an auditorium, dining room and the Fireside Room, which is used for smaller events and meetings. The facility also includes an industrial kitchen.
San Marino City Club holds most of its meetings in the San Marino Center, and in non-pandemic times, the building is used for a weekly bridge game. The San Marino Chamber of Commerce also keeps an office on the premises.

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