The cost of renovating the governor’s Summit Avenue residence rises to $13 million
The cost of renovating the governor’s Summit Avenue residence has nearly doubled to nearly $13 million, according to the state Department of Administration, which is overseeing the project.
Initially, the cost was expected to be $6.3 million just for construction on the 111-year-old English Tudor-style home, which sits two blocks off Lexington Avenue and is one of St. Paul’s finest homes. When design costs were added, the estimated cost in June was just over $7 million.
In a letter to legislative leaders Friday first reported by MPR, Department of Administration Interim Commissioner Stacey Christensen told them about the latest cost estimate of $12.8 million and asked for their comments. The residence is receiving exterior repairs as well as upgrades to the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and security systems.
Internal business bids caused the increase, Christensen wrote. “This is primarily due to the need to replace mechanical, electrical and plumbing system components more extensively than specified in the prior design, along with additional security upgrades,” she wrote. “This work to meet current code and life safety requirements is necessary to complete if the facility is to remain in use.”
Reaction was mixed. House Speaker Melissa Hortman, R-Brooklyn Park, said in a statement that she had no concerns, “based on the information provided by the Department of Administration about the residency status, the bids received, and the unanimous vote.” By the Governor’s Residence Council.”
She was referring to the advisory board that oversees residency care. In a letter to Christensen last week, Council President Amilus White Jr. said the council voted unanimously to move forward, stating that “the housing can no longer be neglected.”
White also noted that the Department of Administration has sufficient funds in its Facilities Repair and Replacement Account to cover the additional cost.
In a statement, a spokesman for Gov. Tim Walz said: “The Governor’s Office is concerned about the increasing costs and would like the Legislature to consider the matter before the Department of Administration makes a decision to move forward with this project.”
Republicans were upset by this increase.
“It is alarming to see the cost of this project nearly double in just a few months,” said Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks. “While inflation has affected the cost of doing business for all Minnesotans, taxpayers cannot afford to be treated as an endless source of funds to provide perks to politicians.”
In the House, Minority Leader Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, said she has requested additional information and wants to know if there are attempts to contain costs. “These types of cost overruns far exceed what is considered reasonable, and Minnesotans should expect the government to make every effort to keep projects within budget before accepting significant increases,” she said.
The construction process, which began over the summer, is expected to take more than a year. The Walls moved to Eastcliffe, the residence traditionally used for the president of the University of Minnesota, a position currently held by interim president Jeff Ettinger, who does not live at home.