Despite one commissioner feeling a bit of sticker shock, the Garden City Commission on Tuesday approved a proposal from GLMV Architecture to develop construction plans for the flamingo habitat, animal health facility, and primate habitat at Lee Richardson Zoo, as well a proposed enclosed shelter for guest amenities at the zoo.

“There are actually six architect firms in the country that have zoo projects often enough and well enough to become established names in the field,” Zoo Director Kristi Newland told commissioners. “GLMV is one of those companies, and they are more familiar with flamingo and primate projects than any other firm.”

Having the same architectural company work on the four projects reduces costs, Newland said. According to a memo from Newland to commissioners, architectural services normally run 12 to 14 percent of construction cost for a zoo project, and sometimes as high as 18 percent. GMLV plans to only charge 10 percent for this proposal, for a total cost of $300,000, she said.

“I’m sorry, I thought this was for some beginning work (of construction). That’s shocking,” Commissioner Troy Unruh said of the price tag for developing the construction documents.

Still, Unruh, along with the rest of the commissioners, unanimously approved GMLV's proposal.

Constuction plans for the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo’s proposed enclosed shelter for the carousel, the operation of the zoo’s existing sluice and Dippin’ Dots cart, as well as other amenities on the west side of the zoo also are included in the proposal.

Garden City staff briefed city commissioners on Tuesday about how the city intends to finance projects funded by the .3-cent sales tax increase voteres approved in November.

Voters in November passed a .3-cent sales increase that will help pay for the  flamingo habitat, animal health facility, and primate habitat projects. In addition to the three zoo projects, revenue from the sales-tax hike also will help pay for urbanized improvements to Jennie Barker Road; construction and operation of an 11,068-square-foot indoor shooting range intended for use by local law enforcement and the public; and construction, operation and maintenance of a 15,061-square-foot fire station on the city’s east side.

The sales tax increase will go into effect April 1 and will sunset in 2033. Receipts on the sales tax will start filtering into local coffers in June.

Commissioner Melvin Dale questioned whether the enclosed shelter project that is being proposed by FOLRZ would be paid for by the county-wide sales tax increase. Newland said it would not be. The enclosed shelter project would be paid for by FOLRZ but would be constructed by the same architect for potential cost savings. According to meeting documents, FOLRZ would pay $20,000 toward the construction plans for the enclosed shelter.

“There isn’t any reason for the commission to be concerned that it’s not living up to the pledge of its voters because you’re making a smart business decision to try to approve some efficiencies,” City Manager Matt Allen said about the projects being funded by the sales tax increase.

Dale said he just wanted that to be clear for citizens.

“We certainly don’t want false information out there,” he said. “Because citizens are like elephants, they don’t forget.”

Working through the city’s Request for Qualifications process, GLMV was selected in 2012 to create the conceptual designs for the primate, flamingo, and Australia Habitats exhibits. The contract included the possible extension of the work to include construction documents and administration. The lead architect of GLMV’s Zoo and Aquarium Division was also the lead architect during the initial development of the construction plans for Cat Canyon.

Since GLMV was involved in conceptual design of the primate habitat and the flamingo habitat, they would be more prepared to start on those projects than another company coming in without that background, according to Newland. GLMV also has experience designing animal health facilities for zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, such as Tulsa Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo, and Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, N.Y.

Contact Josh Harbour at jharbour@gctelegram.com.