Roseville looks to remodel License Center, again


courtesy of City of Roseville • Now that Roseville owns the strip mall where its License Center is located, the city council is revisiting renovation plans that it put on hold last year. The council decided April 16 to work off existing plans to rework the space, but to rework the plans themselves to cut renovation costs.

file photo • Despite long waits and cramped quarters, Roseville’s License Center just recorded it’s highest grossing year in business. The city is once again looking to revamp the space to increase its efficiency.

City now owns strip mall that houses center.

Now that Roseville owns the strip mall where its License Center is located, it’s again looking at plans to revamp the place, if not to the full extent that it was last year.

The Roseville City Council revisited the question of what to do with the center during its April 16 work session, deciding by consensus to work off existing remodel plans, but scaling back the work to cut costs.

Plans to revamp the License Center were put on hold late last year when council members balked at the post-bid $600,000 price tag of reworking the existing space and integrating new space into the center. 

The biggest hangup was the fact the city was leasing the center’s space in the Lexington Shoppes near City Hall just north of County Road C. 

Roseville had just signed a new five-year lease for the space, with annual rents topping $100,000, and rising through the life of the lease, but council members couldn’t stomach dropping half a million dollars into a space the city didn’t own.

In January, the council voted 3-2 to buy the strip mall. The $2.3 million deal became official March 30.

Successful despite its cramped, outdated space and long waits for customers, the License Center has been a city council topic on and off since late 2016, with talks centered on how to improve the center, which has been described as a “cash cow” for the city.

It’s a proven money-maker. According to city Finance Director Chris Miller, who oversees the center, 2017 was its best year ever, with it grossing just more than $1.7 million. 

Because of costs related to architecture work for the remodel, relocation of another tenant in the Lexington Shoppes and the new MNLARS system, Miller said in an email, the center turned a profit of $125,000, though for fiscal year 2016, it had nearly three times as much money left over, which went on to fund other city work.

At the April 16 meeting, council members floated a maximum remodel cost of $500,000. Miller said at the meeting the center has nearly $1 million in reserves, from which work costs would be paid.

 

Discussions

Council member Bob Willmus led the charge for reworking the License Center without some of the bells and whistles included in the plans drawn up last year.

“I understand there’s certainly a desire to have some comfort while people are waiting,” he said, adding, “but I also have an expectation that we improve the efficiency of the operation so people aren’t waiting 40 minutes at a time.”

Council members called upon Pam Ryan, the License Center supervisor. She said the initial plans for the redesign were intended to be “a big deal,” while also noting that factors that originated at the state level, including the new licensing and registration system, have influenced the center’s needs.

“MNLARS has completely changed the way we do business,” Ryan said. “I don’t have a crystal ball and know exactly how it’s going to look but I do know we need to look at the operation and be competitive out there.”

With $24,000 already spent on architectural services, the council discussion honed in on ways to save money by reworking the designs, be it by limiting the number of entrance vestibules or focusing on modular work stations for center employees.

Eventually, a very basic plan to remake the space with efficiency first in mind, then comfort, came about.

“We don’t need a place where [customers] can hang out for half an hour,” said council member Lisa Laliberte. “I hope.”

“I think you can get a lot of the things we’d like to see,” said Mayor Dan Roe, “just in a simpler way that’s less expensive.”

Miller said in an email that the city will be in contact with architects soon to begin the process of reworking the License Center designs, and in the coming months could bid out the project once more, with renovation work following if the council accepts a bid.

 

– Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813


 

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