Five months after designs for a $63-million civic center in Thousand Oaks were first presented, city officials are proposing changes that will boost construction costs.
Edward Johnduff, the city administrator overseeing the project, said three changes are proposed in the design of a 176,000-square-foot civic center at the former Jungleland wild animal park site.
One involves increasing the size of a 300-seat City Council chamber to 400 seats. The addition would involve building a balcony and adding about 4,000 square feet to the project. The existing City Council chamber seats about 70 people.
There is also a proposal to solicit architectural designs for a proposed restaurant that would be located in the government complex. If approved by the council, the alterations would increase construction and design costs by an estimated $837,000.
One change in the project plans involves no increase in construction costs. A planned 2,000-square-foot child-care center has been deleted from the design until the city can determine where it will be located, Johnduff said.
The changes are included in a proposal to be presented to the City Council for approval today. A special 5 p.m. workshop has also been scheduled to review those plans.
Some council members said they wanted to hold the meeting to clear up questions Thousand Oaks residents have about the project. But they said they are committed to moving forward with the project.
"We wanted to outline those concerns on the placement of certain elements of the buildings and see if we could improve on what we had," Mayor Alex Fiore said. "I don't think the square footage is going to change significantly."
Some members of the council have reviewed plans for the civic center at least 10 times since they were presented in April, Johnduff said. The full council has reviewed and approved the project three times, he said.
Critics of the proposal to develop the Jungleland park site into a government center say it is unnecessary and will waste taxpayers' money.
The budget for the project does not include the cost of acquiring 22 acres of land at Thousand Oaks Boulevard and Conejo School Road, the subject of a land price dispute that has landed the city in the courts. A trial begins Oct. 1 to resolve the dispute between the city and the Santa Monica landowner who owns the Jungleland site.
James Longtin, an attorney representing landowner Asad Morovati, said it will cost the city about $20 million to acquire the land and to compensate his client for damages. Longtin said his client has been offered $16 million but refuses to accept it, and "the city won't talk to us anymore."