Currently Reading

Three libraries in California were built in less than two years under a P3 contract


Three libraries in California were built in less than two years under a P3 contract

A nonprofit with tax advantages funded the project.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | September 22, 2021
A new library in French Valley, Calif., one of three built under a P3 contract
Riverside County, Calif., teamed with a nonprofit to finance the design and construction of three libraries. Shown above is the 25,000-sf library in French Valley, Calif. Images: Courtesy of CannonDesign

Over the summer, a building team that included CannonDesign and McCarthy Building Companies completed three new libraries in Riverside County, Calif., that were built simultaneously in just 20 months under a $46 million public-private partnership contract that included a nonprofit specializing in funding P3 projects.

The three libraries—in Desert Hot Springs, Menifee, and French Valley—are now owned by Community Facility Public Private Partnerships (CFP3), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that financed this project via tax-exempt bonds. Over the course of CFP3’s ownership contract, which can run up to 30 years, the County expects to save $25 million in debt service, operations, and maintenance costs. The installation of solar panels alone is expected to save $600,000.

As early as 2014, Riverside County—the fourth most-populous county in the state and the 10th most-populous in the U.S.—realized that its library system wasn’t keeping up with its growth. For example, at the time its existing 10,500-sf library in Menifee was serving 350,000 patrons. And that library’s location near a major roadway excluded expansion, according to a white paper about this project that CFP3 has published.

Back in the 1970s, the County’s Board of Supervisors approved the dedication of 1% of its general property tax for library services. But that wasn’t enough to build and maintain newer, larger branches.



A tech center inside of the library in French Valley, Calif.
While each library is configured differently, they share common elements like tech centers.

Prior to its library contract, the County had done about 15 P3s for different building types that covered 1 million sf and $600 million of property. To envision how many new libraries it needed, the County’s Office of Economic Development, in partnership with Library Systems and Services (which since the 1990s had operated Riverside’s library system), hired Group 4, a South San Francisco firm that specializes in project planning for libraries and community centers.

In 2018, the Riverside County Library System created an RFP for three new libraries, and received a dozen proposals. The County, which approved this project a year later, determined that the best, and least expensive, course of action would be to hire one team for all three projects under a P3 contract structure.

There were several advantages to taking this route, not the least being that the project could move forward without as many public hearings, procurement protocols, and referendums that can add months to scheduling. And because CFP3 is a nonprofit, it would not be saddled with property taxes as the libraries’ owner. The interest it charged the County for the cost of the project, at between 3% and 3.5%, was less than half of the return on equity a private P3 entity would have expected.



New library in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.
The new library in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. (above) is five times larger than its predecessor. The library in Menifee, Calif. (below) was essential to meet the community's growth.

The new library in Menifee, Calif.

The partners in this P3 included Omni West Group, a development and property management firm, that came up with the libraries’ operational budget. CannonDesign created the blueprints for all three libraries that, while having different layouts, share similar attributes like children’s areas, tech centers, and community spaces.

McCarthy, which served as this project’s general contractor, was brought on board in part for its long-time relationships with local subcontractors, which prevented manpower-shortage delays. McCarthy assigned one project manager to monitor all three builds. CFP3 calculates that the design and construction of the libraries accounted for 20% of the total cost, with the rest going toward maintenance and operations.

During construction, there were some community concerns about the 25,000-sf library in French Valley, which opened July 31 and is the only one of the three located in a residential neighborhood. CFP3 states that these concerns were resolved with meetings and virtual fly-throughs of the building.

The new Menifee library opened July 24 at 20,000 sf, and was built to be an anchor for a larger retail development. The Desert Hot Springs library—the first of the three to open, on June 26—is 15,500 sf, and replaces a library that was only around one-fifth that size. “This library is a wonderful anchor for the community,” says Matthew Greiner, AIA, NCARB, Senior Vice President at CannonDesign. “It’s a home base for the wonderful people who live here. It’s where so many bright ideas and futures will be launched.” 


Related Stories

Giants 400 | Aug 30, 2021

2021 Giants 400 Report: Ranking the largest architecture, engineering, and construction firms in the U.S.

The 2021 Giants 400 Report includes more than 130 rankings across 25 building sectors and specialty categories.

Libraries | Aug 26, 2021

Fort Worth’s first public library for children opens

KAI designed the project.

Resiliency | Aug 19, 2021

White paper outlines cost-effective flood protection approaches for building owners

A new white paper from Walter P Moore offers an in-depth review of the flood protection process and proven approaches.

Libraries | Aug 17, 2021

ABA creates space for the Philip Roth Personal Library at the Newark Public Library

ABA partnered with Shawmut Design & Construction on the project.

Libraries | Aug 10, 2021

Lakeside Branch Library breaks ground

HED and PCL Construction are designing and building the project.

Libraries | Jul 9, 2021

Smith College’s newly renovated Neilson Library honors its past as it moves into the future

Adding more space for the library's Special Collections was a design imperative.

Resiliency | Jun 24, 2021

Oceanographer John Englander talks resiliency and buildings [new on HorizonTV]

New on HorizonTV, oceanographer John Englander discusses his latest book, which warns that, regardless of resilience efforts, sea levels will rise by meters in the coming decades. Adaptation, he says, is the key to future building design and construction.

AEC Tech | May 24, 2021

Digital twin’s value propositions for the built environment, explained

Ernst & Young’s white paper makes its cases for the technology’s myriad benefits.

Libraries | May 14, 2021

Five projects receive 2021 AIA/ALA Library Building Award

A six-person jury selected the winning projects.

Libraries | Apr 8, 2021

Stanley A. Milner Library Renewal project completes in Edmonton

Teeple Architects designed the project.

Magazine Subscription

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.


Follow BD+C: