Council OKs another $48K for Scenic restrooms,
which may actually be built
Published: February 8, 2013
WITH PLASTIC weatherproofing over the
historic Carmel Mission Basilica set to be removed later this
month, and the subsequent retiling of the roof, the $5 million
seismic retrofit should be completed by April, according to Vic
Grabrian, president of the foundation that’s overseeing the
work. And, even though the nonprofit still has a lot of money to
raise, its members decided last week to commence with the second
phase of improvements while the scaffolding is still surrounding
the 220-year-old building.
“It’s estimated to be about $2.2 million right now, as
originally budgeted,” he said of the next round of projects,
which includes repairs to damaged exterior walls and mechanical
If the Carmel Mission Foundation spends the next year or two
raising that money, the costs could grow by half again, due to
labor and material increases, according to Grabrian.
“But the construction people came to me around Christmastime
and said if we could raise a bunch of money fairly quickly and
do this work while the scaffolding is still up, and the
contractor is still there, we could save about $1 million,” he
said. “So last week, we decided to go ahead and go for it.”
The foundation already has a good start: One donor put up a
$350,000 challenge grant it hopes to match dollar for dollar.
Final steps of phase one
The $5 million retrofit — also paid for with money raised by the foundation — includes shoring up the Basilica’s walls, installing new wiring and plumbing, and replacing the roof installed in the 1930s. The work began late last summer and should be completed by April.
Of significant importance is strengthening the walls to meet a
state law that takes effect in 2017 requiring masonry buildings
like the Mission be reinforced to improve their ability to
withstand earthquakes, and according to Grabrian, the
contractor, Blach Construction, reported the walls are now three
times stronger than they were. That new stability is due to the
more than 300 steel rods inserted and grouted into place in
vertical and horizontal holes drilled through the walls.
Work in the attic — new wiring, fire protection systems and
strengthening of the roof — should be completed soon, according
to Grabrian, and a new layer of plywood to strengthen the roof
should be installed by the end of February.
At that point, the scaffolding and plastic sheeting that have
kept the Mission dry during construction can be removed. The
foundation has been renting the covering for $32,000 per month.
“They have to specially build all that stuff — they didn’t just
have it lying around,” Grabrian said of the metal scaffolding
and panels protecting the roof. The contractor built the pieces
specifically to fit over the top and lowered them into place
with a large crane. The foundation and the contractor decided
the time and costs saved by not having to wait until the dry
season to do the work more than offset the expense of renting
the plastic covering.
Once the plywood sub-roof is in place and has been
waterproofed, the temporary covering can be dismantled, and
workers will reinstall the old clay barrel tiles they
painstakingly removed and stacked at the start of the project.
The only new construction is a handicap-accessible bathroom.
“If we did our job right, you won’t be able to tell we did a
thing,” Grabrian said.
Phase two details
The next phase of the Basilica restoration, originally
estimated at $2.2 million, includes fixing the deteriorating
exterior walls, towers and Moorish dome; repairing woodwork,
including windows and the exposed rafter tails under the roof;
upgrading mechanical, electrical, radiant heating and fire
protection systems; installing new lighting; and bringing doors,
ramps and railings into ADA compliance.
“If we wait until all $2.2 million is raised to begin this last
part, it may take a couple of years,” Grabrian said. “Inflation
of wages and materials will increase the cost to at least $3
million, not to mention more deterioration of external
As a result, the foundation opted to get busy raising the money
and to authorize the contractor to start on the second phase,
even if all the cash isn’t yet in the bank.
“If we can raise a little over a million fairly quickly and
begin this work immediately, while the scaffolding is
still up and the contractor is in place for the seismic
retrofit, we can save at least $1 million,” he said. “The
decision was made last week to proceed with the remainder of the
Basilica restoration now.”
As a result, the start of the next round of projects can
dovetail with the end of the first phase, and most of the
savings will come from the fact the infrastructure and workers
are already onsite.
With the help of the $350,000 challenge grant, “we are
optimistic we can fund and complete most of Basilica restoration
work by this summer,” Grabrian said.
Overall, the foundation has so far raised close to $6 million.
Most of that money went to the seismic work, as well as a few
side projects, like the refurbishment of the Mission’s bells.
“It’s possible that by the middle of this year, we’re looking
at the Basilica restoration being completed, and then we’ll be
heavily involved in tackling what’s next — probably the
museums,” he said. “And that’s a whole different type of project
But the group has to raise the money for the rest of the
restoration, first. To contribute, visit
www.carmelmissionfoundation.org or call (831) 624-3261.