City officials, on Wednesday, decided to move forward with renovating an existing facility into an animal shelter after a 30-day inspection period on the property.
The 18,000-square-foot facility and surrounding property is located at 4218 Chandler Highway. The city is scheduled to close the deal on Dec. 23, according to a news release.
On Dec. 10, the Half Cent Sales Tax Corp. board members approved City Manager Mark McDaniel to go forward with plans to purchase the property, which was previously occupied by the Creme Lure Co. and the Kingdom Family Church.
The city entered into a sales contract for $550,000 for the 10 acres and existing buildings, according to a news release from the city. The sales contract allowed the city 30 days to evaluate the former commercial facility.
“The architects on the project believe that the building is highly suitable for use as an animal care facility due to its sound structure, existing layout, location, a fire sprinkler system already in place and room to accommodate future phasing according to an overall plan,” McDaniel said in the release. “One of those future phases might also be a dog park on surrounding grounds that includes a water feature, wooded area and open space.”
The city’s Half Cent Board approved a $108,953 contract with Freese and Nichols, a Tyler architectural firm, to prepare a preliminary schematic design for the animal shelter.
“While firm opinions of probable costs are not in yet, the renovation of the building is estimated to cost in the range of $180 per square foot, versus approximately $240 per square foot for a new building,” City Engineer Carter Delleney said.
The next step is for the city to sign a contract for architectural services to develop renovation drawings and plans before hiring a general contractor. No timeline has been set for the renovations, but the shelter is set to be operational by October 2014.
The city currently contracts with both the Klein Animal Shelter in Jacksonville and the Northeast Texas Public Health District to house its unwanted animals and provide animal control services within Tyler.
The city spent $567,000 in the 2012-13 fiscal year for these services, Tyler Police Lt. David Long said at the Nov. 13 city council meeting. Those contract costs were expected to rise by 42 percent based on growing animal intake and estimates.
McDaniel said at the December Half Cent board meeting the building could house a veterinary technician program in conjunction with Tyler Junior College and a veterinary clinic. “We would have to phase those things in,” McDaniel said, adding the city does not have funding for a clinic and a veterinary program.
“A veterinary tech training program is one of the top needs for this region and has been on our ‘to-do’ list for over a year,” TJC President Mike Metke said in the release. “The job demand, pay, placement and projected need are all very strong. We’ve just needed a good training partner and the right facility to move forward, so we are excited about the city’s plans.”
Staff Writer Faith Harper contributed to this report.