Marcus Construction to manage three Willmar projects funded by new sales tax

The Willmar City Council hired Marcus Construction as the construction manager at risk for three local option sales tax projects. The company will manage the recreation fields, the event center and the Swansson Field improvement projects for the city. Construction on the recreation fields could begin as soon as next spring, with the other projects to follow.

Work at Swansson Field in Willmar will potentially start in fall 2020 with funding from the Invest in Willmar local option sales tax projects. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune
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Editor's Note: Story has been updated to clarify the compensation to Marcus Construction.

WILLMAR — Three local option sales tax projects now have a leader. Marcus Construction was hired by the Willmar City Council to act as the construction manager at risk for the new recreation fields and event center near the Willmar Civic Center and for improvements at the Swansson Field Recreational Complex.

"We are honored and really excited to get to work on these very important projects," said Jim Bach of Marcus Construction at the Nov. 4 City Council meeting.

Marcus Construction's total compensation for the projects will be $1,646,630. This includes preconstruction/bidding, reimbursables and the construction manager fee. The fee is 2.35 percent of the three projects' estimated total cost of $18 million, proposed to be $423,000.

As the "construction manager at risk," Marcus Construction is tasked with preparing schematic and design development budget estimates for the project, managing the preconstruction phases of the projects, acting as the manager of the projects during active construction as well as supervising the sites, all on behalf of the city.


With Marcus Construction on board, attention can now turn to finding architects and firming up timelines.

Proposals from architects for the three projects were due back by Nov. 12. In an interview with the West Central Tribune, Parks and Recreation Director Rob Baumgarn said the hope is to have the architects hired for the three projects around Jan. 1.

"We really want to find people that have done these kinds projects before," Baumgarn said.

The one-half percent local option sales tax approved by voters last year will raise an estimated $30 million in approximately 13 years to be split among six projects.

Subcommittees of the Invest in Willmar Board — a combination of city officials and members of the community committee that led the sales tax campaign — have been working on each of the six projects, discussing wants, budgets and timelines. Baumgarn said things slowed down a bit as the search for a construction manager began, but it should all kick into a higher gear going forward.

"The committees have been working hard," Baumgarn said.

The recreation field project will include the construction of new grass softball fields south of the Civic Center and two artificial turf fields between the Civic Center and Willmar Senior High School. One of the turf fields will include a bubble dome, allowing for use during the winter. The budget for the project is $6 million.

The event center, to be connected to the Civic Center, has a total budget of $10 million. The center will provide space and seating for concerts and shows, an indoor play area for children, indoor tennis/pickleball courts and possibly a covered outdoor ice rink.


The Swansson Field project will bring improvements and upgrades to all of the fields. The subcommittee has discussed stadium seating at one of the fields as well as lighting upgrades and a new concession stand area. The total project budget is $2 million.

"We want to get better dugouts, drainage," Baumgarn said.

Baumgarn warned though that the entire project budget does not go to construction alone. About 25 percent of each project's budget will pay for engineering, architectural services and contingency. The architect and construction manager will help design and plan for a project that meets those funding requirements.

"To maximize the dollars the best way we can," Baumgarn said.

Construction could begin on portions of these projects as soon as next spring. Baumgarn said the best case scenario would be to have the turf fields completed and the softball fields seeded by next fall.

"So we can utilize the bubble next fall," Baumgarn said. This timeline would also mean the softball fields would be ready for play by spring 2021.

Work at Swansson Field could start in fall 2020, after the baseball season. Baumgarn said the event center could be completed in spring 2022.

"It will be a very aggressive timeline" for all the projects, Baumgarn said. "We are still hoping to do work as soon as spring, summer."


Separate from the Marcus Construction-led projects are the new Willmar Community Center — to be built along with a new city hall at the current site, stormwater improvement projects and Robbins Island projects.

The sales tax-funded stormwater projects will be under the purview of the city Public Works department. The first such project is ongoing between 24th and 25th Street Southeast and Oxford Drive Southeast.

There is already work happening at Robbins Island: A four-season shelter funded by a state Legacy Grant is under construction. Baumgarn said RAM General Contracting Inc. believes the shelter will be completed in June, weather permitting.

"It'll catch your eye," Baumgarn said.

The local option sales tax project at the park, including a new road, improved parking lots and extra park shelters, will start following the last Rockin' Robbins concert next summer. The road and parking lots will be completed before the lights turn on in November 2020 for the Celebrate the Light of the World holiday light display.

"It is going to be busy and exciting. The work has just begun," Baumgarn said.

Swansson Field is one of the several locations that will be upgraded through the Invest in Willmar local option sales tax projects. The project will bring improvements and upgrades to all of the fields including potential stadium seating at one of the fields as well as lighting upgrades and a new concession stand area. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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