Horn Lake Board of Aldermen heard a second proposal from a local architectural firm laying out their design ideas for a new animal shelter.
Bradley Wallace of AERC Architecture in Hernando presented the board with a rough floor plan and cost estimates.
“We appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about this,” Wallace said.
Horn Lake has been working with Shelter Planners of America, a nationwide consulting firm with over 30 years of experience designing animal shelters, on a proposal to build a new facility, but wanted to get a second bid to look at to compare.
The city’s current animal shelter is located at 6520 Center Street but is outdated and out of space to accommodate the number of animals that it takes in. The shelter has had as many as 90 dogs at the facility at one time.
Shelter Planners of America submitted a design for a 12,500 square foot facility that would hold up to 81 dogs and cost about $4.4 to $6 million. AERC’s proposal was less detailed, but calls for a 13,000 square foot facility that would cost about $4.1 million.
Wallace said their proposal includes a fenced in facility with a front parking lot, a main building with an entry area and processing area, holding area for dogs and cats, lab area, offices for staff, public event space or classroom area, and a kennel building for dogs with a sallyport to transfer animals. The kennel area would lead to the old high school football field which was donated to the city by DeSoto County Schools for a dog exercise area.
In response to a question from Alderman At-Large Danny Klein if the company had ever built an animal shelter before, Wallace said that AERC is currently building the animal shelter for the City of Hernando.
“We are actually completing the Hernando animal shelter,” Wallace said. “Right now it is toward the end of construction.”
Wallace added that also worked with Southaven on animal control for 20 years before he came to AERC.
“I’m familiar with animal shelters,” Wallace said.
The board asked questions about AERC’s design concerning flooring, sanitation, climate control, and noise abatement, but was told by Wallace that their proposal was just a bare bones schematic of the layout at this stage.
“We haven’t gotten that far,” Wallace said. “We just wanted to present you with an option to look at for a facility that is the desirable size that you all have come to from previous discussions. It’s really just a diagram at this point of how it could be laid out and how things could be organized. I’m sorry I’m not prepared to provide a lot of details at this point because we haven’t gotten into the project yet. But it’s nothing that we can’t do.”
Alderman Jackie Bostick asked whether the $4.1 million was firm.
“Is that negotiable or is it set in stone?” he asked. “I’m used to seeing 10 or 15 percent. I was wondering if there was an error there.”
Wallace said their fee is based on a percentage of the estimate, but is typically about seven percent of the construction cost.
“It is an estimate,” Wallace said. “I would say it is negotiable at this point if there is anything we can do to firm that up.”
AERC’s fees include services for the schematic design and development, as well as for the bidding process and construction phases.
“I don’t think it’s too different from what you’ve seen before,” Wallace said.
Bostick also asked whether the company used local contractors to do the work.
“The ones who are doing Hernando, are they local?” Bostick said.
Wallace said while the bid is open to the public, they tend to use contractors from north Mississippi and Memphis.
“They are in the area, but it is open to whoever is qualified,” Wallace said. “The ones we have had the best experience with, we would consider them at least regional. They are not all in DeSoto County, but they may go from here to the Corinth area and across the line in Memphis.”
Alderman Robby Dupree pointed out that Hernando’s animal shelter is about half the size of the one the city is considering building and asked about AERC’s qualifications and the types of projects they have worked on.
“What do you mainly construct?” Dupree said.
Wallace said AERC has worked on various government buildings, large industrial projects, business retail projects, as well as some school projects.
“It’s fairly broad,” Wallace said. “I don’t mean to be vague, but we just have a wide variety. We don’t specialize in anything in particular, but we haven’t found anything somebody has brought us that we can’t do.”
Dupree said the reason he asked is because the animal shelter is a big investment and the city needs to make sure they get it built right.
“A dog shelter isn’t a warehouse,” Dupree said. “This is a lot of money.”
Wallace said AERC will listen to the city’s needs and will be there to walk them through the project step-by-step.
“We do pride ourselves on listening,” Wallace said. “Each client has their own idea of what they want. So we try to be attentive in giving them the product that you are asking for.”
Horn Lake plans to finance the project with an $8 million bond which includes $2 million to renovate City Hall.
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