Business & Real Estate

Community center update touts progress despite COVID-19 delays

Community Center
Courtesy of the City of Los Altos
The completion date for the Los Altos Community Center has been pushed back seven months because of the pandemic.

The city issued its latest update on the construction of the Los Altos Community Center Jan. 26, touting the building’s progress despite COVID-related delays that have pushed its completion date back seven months.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the project’s contractors were forced to cut some working hours to comply with Santa Clara County’s construction health protocols. That has reduced workdays from eight hours a day to seven, according to Jim Sandoval, the city’s engineering services director.

“It’s slowed down work a little bit,” Sandoval said.

The center was originally scheduled to be completed in November 2020 but is now expected to open partially in April and fully in June. The project was initially expected to cost $38.3 million, but reports through December 2020 indicate that it is under budget by $2.5 million.

Progress made

Despite delays, the project has adhered to its altered schedule, according to a city presentation.

Construction activities in December included the building up of exterior waterproofing, insulation and windows; the continued installation of ducts, plumbing, drywall and roofing; and progress building the Hillview parking lot, the city report said. Much of the same construction is expected to continue through at least this month, including the installation of courtyard canopies.

Some council members and residents, however, raised concerns that the project could still go over budget if not kept in check.

“What we have to understand is what monies do we really need and what change orders are coming forward,” Councilmember Lynette Lee Eng said. “Are they change orders that are really needed right now, or are they niceties like the artwork or stands to put statues on?”

Sandoval assured the council and residents that most of the budget changes in the project were “unexpected and unanticipated,” such as the pandemic and digging through the original building’s foundation, which was much larger than initially estimated.

Once completed, the community center will span 24,500 square feet. The new space will feature a community gathering room, three multipurpose rooms, several meeting rooms, a kitchen and dedicated areas for the city’s senior, teen and preschool programs. It is expected to host dozens of city-run events annually.

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