A budget breakdown spreadsheet sent by email between the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) and DaVinci Development Collaborative, the project management company hired by APF to oversee the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, shows a February projection estimating the cost to build a scaled down version of the facility coming in at $81,158,744, which is around $8 million higher than the APF target budget ACPC reported in March.
Since late 2021, APF claimed the training center, which opponents call Cop City, will cost a total of $90 million, with $60 million coming from private philanthropic sources donated to the Foundation and $30 million coming from the city of Atlanta. Through documents obtained via an open records request filed with the city, ACPC learned that in February the Foundation and contractors discussed a much leaner $72.8 million target budget for the project.
The document presents two contrasting budgets: a projected budget generated by DaVinci that reflects current expected costs and an APF target budget based off current and projected funding levels. The budgets are broken down into hard costs, such as building construction, and soft costs, such as consultant fees. The DaVinci proposed budget is $8.3 million dollars higher than the APF target budget, and the latter side is littered with notes about how APF plans to bring the two budgets in line. A note in red at the top of the APF target reads, “excludes stables, kennels, EVOC (emergency vehicle operation course), offsite security, and ASSUMPTIONS THAT NEED TO BE VERIFIED.”
In particular, APF calls for $2.2 million in cost reductions to site development, landscaping, and the training fire station.
This spreadsheet sheds additional light on plans to lower the cost per square foot of the training fire center, noting APF wants to reduce the cost of the $5.5 million station by $1 million, or about 20% of the total cost of the building. A note next to the APF target number indicates that this would require a revised design. It is unclear if this redesign would require additional approval by DeKalb County officials.
Like the fire station, the APF target budget calls for a cost reduction of $1 million for site development next to a note that says, “reduced to fit budget, don’t know if possible.” On the projection side, however, DaVinci notes that the cost of site development, “will need to increase to include staking stream buffer and flood plain.”
Another issue is contingency percentage. For large construction projects, it is typical to set aside between 5-10% of the project estimate in the event of unexpected cost overruns due to reasons like fluctuating market conditions. APF’s construction contingency is on the extreme low side, at only 3%, but a note on the projection side says, “will probably need to increase for [general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie] ‘holding’ costs.” An additional 3% is set aside in the DaVinci projection for owner contingencies, which is money held for things like design changes or funding delays. APF’s target budget drops the projected owner contingency from 3% to a 2%, for hopeful savings of $852,959.
The firing range, which APF moved away from residential areas and next to a juvenile prison at the suggestion of the Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee (CSAC), poses another issue for the target budget. The projected cost of the firing range is around $4.5 million, but a note on the target side says, “if [we] have to design a fully covered range, cost will increase $1 [million].” This determination will be made pending the results of an acoustical study.
DaVinci and APF also project $1.2 million in “admin and offsite security,” with a note in the projection side saying, “will need to increase to continue to cover costs for longer period.” APF’s target budget has a much smaller $10,000 projection, and a note reads, “potentially move [everything over $10,000] to another funding source.” Neither the budget document nor any of the emails exchanged on the subject ACPC viewed describe what the potential funding source may be.
There is no mention of on-site security cost. In an affidavit to the Fulton County Superior Court in response to a temporary restraining order filed on behalf of CSAC member and area resident Amy Taylor, Alan Williams, the Foundation’s project manager for Cop City, claimed that every day of delay would cost the City and APF $33,600 in security costs. With the Foundation hoping to open the first phase of the training center in late 2024, or roughly a year and a half from now, that takes on-site security to a gross cost of over $18 million. Whether that will be paid for by the city or the Foundation in the long run has yet to be clarified. Currently the city is paying for on-site security at the project site, to the chagrin of Atlanta City Council member Antonio Lewis.
In addition to zeroed-out line items for the EVOC, kennels and stables, this budget does not include any allocated money for furniture, fixtures & equipment (FF&E) on either the DaVinci projection or APF target side. There are notes, however, next to line items for equipment planning consultants, IT consultants, and site signage and graphics on the APF target side reading, “potentially move to FF&E budget.” These line items amount to a total of $344,760.
The estimated cost of FF&E is unknown outside of perhaps the Foundation and DaVinci, but it will be in the several million dollars range. One quote from Empire Office for furniture alone comes in at $1.9 million for just the academic building, leadership institute, kennels and firing range ($1.8 million when furniture for the kennels that are no longer in the current plans is removed). Without FF&E, these buildings are only shells, so at some point some entity will have to pay these costs.
Like FF&E, the line items for utility and connection fees are also zeroed out. While the lease agreement between the city of Atlanta and APF states the Foundation is responsible for all utilities, neither this budget document nor quotes from Georgia Power for the facility reflect that fact.
It’s unclear how much of these budget discussions were communicated to the mayor’s office. Emails seen by ACPC between APF and LaChandra Burks, deputy chief operating officer for the city of Atlanta, do not include any mention of the $72.8 million slimmer budget the Foundation asked DaVinci to meet, the missing EVOC, kennels and stables elements of the current plans, or the $81.2 million cost projection made by DaVinci. However, the meeting minutes from APF and Davinci’s discussion of this budget note that the “city and APF are working to put together a capital stack and currently $72.8 [million] is designated for the design and construction of the Public Safety Training Center.”
At the time the lease legislation passed in 2021, then-Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told residents that the training center would come at a $30 million cost the city. APF still shows the same $30 million public and $60 million private breakdown for the facility on its Public Safety First Campaign website.
The Foundation requested $33.5 million from the city for training center construction on March 2. Neither the city nor APF have said anything publicly about this increase in cost to the city.
On April 18, 2022, APF claimed it had commitments for 85% of the budget to complete the training center, which, based on the original $60 million the Foundation claimed it would fundraise, works out to approximately $51 million. Added with the $33.5 million commitment from the city, APF would have around $84.5 million, leaving a window of around $3.4 million between DaVinci’s $81 million budget projection and APF’s potential total available funds, without the inclusion of FF&E, EVOC, kennels or stables.
It’s likely that City Council will need to approve the new $33.5 million expenditure for Cop City, and this budget spreadsheet should give Council cause for concern. With APF apparently failing to meet its $60 million fundraising commitment, it cannot safely be assumed the Foundation will be able to raise additional funds if needed. If there are any cost overruns on the project during construction, it is likely the Foundation will come hat-in-hand back to the city to request additional funds.
In March, City Council called for an audit of the More MARTA program to restore trust by residents, citing concerns on how the program continued to reduce its promised scope, like what APF is doing with the Public Safety Training Center.
Like with MARTA, without transparency, it’s difficult to determine for certain how APF’s plans are coming to fruition or how many other promises made to the public will remain unfulfilled. Between the $8 million difference of DaVinci’s cost projection and APF’s target budget, the apparent failure of the Foundation in fundraising what it committed to, and the already increased cost commitment to the city, this may be another situation in which City Council calls for an audit.