No second story for Birch Grove Community Center

The architectural firm hired by Tofte Township to assess whether or not the Birch Grove Community Center building could support a second story that would accommodate senior housing and some office space has indicated that a preliminary look at the building’s walls and foundation are not suited for a second addition, said Dick Grabko of Community Resources Development (CRD).

Or, as Grabko told the board, the cost to fix the walls and foundation would far exceed what the township was hoping to spend on developing senior housing.

The structural assessment completed by engineering firm DSGW indicated there were issues with footings, walls, and the roof and determined it would be more expensive to fix those then to build an adjacent structure, Grabko told Tofte Township supervisors at their August 8, 2013 meeting.

Of the three architectural firms to bid on the project, DSGW Architects of Duluth was the low bidder at $10,800. As part of the bid, DSGW will now make a recommendation about the feasibility of adding onto the building and what those costs might be, and if that is not a plausible option, also look at determining what type of senior housing could be located on the township’s 29 acres which lay behind the community center.

Grabko and his partner, Gary Lammpa of CRD, have been hired to help the township develop senior housing at Birch Grove. Part of their job is to identify perspective clients, write grants, find bonds and find a developer if the project is feasible.

As part of the process, said Supervisor Paul James, “We need to get senior citizen input into just what type of building or housing they want.”

The board set August 28 as a date to meet with seniors. The first of two meetings will be held at the senior luncheon at Birch Grove and a second meeting will be held at night for all interested citizens.