Detroit Lakes' new public works building design unveiled

The design of the new $9.4 million public works building for the city of Detroit Lakes was unveiled during a city council meeting on March 8. The building will be located next to the new Becker County Highway Department building in the North Tower Road industrial park.

City leaders this week approved the preliminary designs for Detroit Lakes' new public works building -- minus the "tiger strip" pattern on the exterior walls, which they didn't like. The building will be located on North Tower Road.
Oertel Architects

Designs for the new $9.4 million Detroit Lakes public works building were unveiled during the most recent city council meeting on Tuesday, March 8.

Minus the tiger-stripe pattern on the building exterior, which city officials said will be changed, council members approved the preliminary designs and agreement with the architect.

"None of us liked the color scheme they did with the precast panels, the tiger stripes... so I contacted them," said Kelcey Klemm, city administrator for Detroit Lakes, during a meeting of the city's public works committee on March 7. "I said, 'What can we do about that?' And she said, 'Well, don't worry about that — when we work on design, obviously that's all subject to change.'"

The nearly 48,000-square-foot building will be located in the North Tower Road industrial park in Detroit Lakes, next to the new Becker County Highway Department building. It will have 23 indoor parking spots for the city's fleet of vehicles and will also include a maintenance garage area, vehicle washing station and offices for city employees.

Oertel Architects' conceptual design for the new Detroit Lakes public works building. Seen in the back is the new Becker County Highway Department facility.
Oertel Architects

Since the project was first outlined a few years ago, the estimated project cost has risen from $7.5 million to $9.4 million due to rising supply chain costs and a structure switch from metal to precast concrete. The city will end up paying for the project with a portion of the property tax levy collected over multiple years, but, due to the increased cost estimates, the city will need to continue saving portions of the levy for longer than they had originally anticipated.


"The building design...has not changed — that's the same layout that we looked at a few years ago," said Klemm. "The cost estimate certainly has changed... So now we're looking at an $8.5 million construction cost and then about another million dollars in soft costs...and of course that includes contingency and such in there. Still, that's a really big price tag."

The project is expected to be sent out for contractor bids in fall 2022 with construction to begin the following year.

"Until we bid it, we don't really know (the project cost)," he said. "There's so much uncertainty right now with things and until you advertise bids, you just don't know."

The future of the old Detroit Lakes public works building just off Roosevelt Avenue is "up for debate," Klemm said, adding that there has been talk of redeveloping the site and the city would seriously consider offers from developers for any prospective project.

In the interim, he said, the city can still use the site to store equipment and other vehicles.

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The Detroit Lakes City Council holds a regular meeting at the city administration building on March 8, 2022.
(Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

Lead Multimedia Reporter for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus.
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