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Monday, May 27, 2024

City seeks architect for upgrades to Thermo Fisher

The city is seeking an architect to help evaluate and design space needs for occupying the Thermo Fisher building. (Port City Daily/Amy Passaretti Willis)

WILMINGTON — After the state approved the city’s financing to purchase downtown’s tallest building, plans are moving forward to adapt the structure to fit the city’s needs.

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A request for qualifications was sent out Thursday seeking an architect to develop floor plans, space-use concepts and construction designs for building improvements at the Thermo Fisher building, 929 N. Front St.

The city plans to close July 13 on the $70-million property, which comes fully furnished. The purchase includes two adjacent vacant parcels and a 1,000-space parking deck. The Local Government Commission signed off on the financing structure June 6, despite State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s opposition.

The city has included the financing in its fiscal year 2023-2024 budget, remiss of a tax increase as previously explored.

The goal is to consolidate city departments currently spread across at least nine different locations into one. To do so, it’s looking for professional insight on the best approach. The chosen architectural firm would be tasked with analyzing the city’s internal planning efforts and decide how to best use the structure for its traditional government functions.

City staff have indicated it plans to occupy five of the 12 floors, with Thermo Fisher leasing out two floors. The remaining space will be rented at market rate to tenants. At this time, no potential tenants have been made public.

The architect would help evaluate space for future tenants and assess and produce designs to attract companies to the building.

According to the RFP, 295 city employees are expected to work out of the downtown building once acquired. Departments include the city council and administration, city manager’s office, city clerk, human resources, planning and development, finance, community services, engineering, and IT.

While the majority of fire and police staff will remain at their respective headquarters, the new office will be home to 10 fire employees, 50 police employees working with special investigations and 10 STING operations officers.

The chosen architect would be working in phases to ultimately come to a final design with drawings, specifications, cost analysis, and suggestions as to how to update structural, mechanical and electrical systems on site.

Once a final design has been reached, the city will bid out construction work as needed.

Interested firms must apply to the city’s RFP by July 18 to be considered. City council is expected to award a contract at its Aug. 15 meeting.

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