Work to build a new clinic and renovate an animal shelter in Irvine could begin next year – Orange County Register

The Irvine Animal Care Center was a Sunday zoo where hundreds of hopeful dogs, cats, birds and other pets waited for their chance to find a forever family during the massive adoption event the city has hosted annually for 16 years.

By the time Super Pet adoption comes around next year, officials hope the animal care center that hasn’t seen major renovations in decades will start to look a little different. A plan to add a new animal clinic and visitor lobby, and to renovate existing facilities, is expected to begin construction in early 2023.

The long-planned project for the city’s ancient shelter is still in the design planning stage. But city officials could go out to bid for construction contracts in the fall, after the city council approves the final plan, “and then once we’ve selected a responsible construction company, we’ll begin that process,” said Irvin Animal Care Center Director Mike Crippen.

In 2018, city leaders decided on a plan to demolish the entire 20,000-square-foot facility and build it anew, saying at the time that the cost difference between upgrading the existing center and putting in new construction was minimal, while construction offered more flexibility.

Crippen said they changed direction in 2019, and decided to do a mix of existing building renovations and adding some square footage. After evaluating the original project plan, he said, “we felt that a lot of the existing buildings could be renovated and that it was a more cost-benefit decision.”

The total budget for the project remains $25.9 million, Crippen said, but the new plan also adds upgrades to a nearby operations facility in the city, including reconfiguring a parking lot and adding solar panels.

“Like Animal Welfare, this building hasn’t been physically updated in nearly 40 years,” he said.

A walking trail will also be added that will connect Oak Canyon to an existing trail so that animals at the facility can be taken on a walk that goes around the block.

With new construction consisting of a modern animal clinic and a large welcoming foyer, the facility will increase in area by approximately 10,000 square feet. Plans call for remodeling of parts of four existing buildings, including updating the cat and rabbit adoption areas, adding air conditioning and sound control improvements and larger kennels in two buildings that house dogs, according to a project update recently submitted to the Irvine Community Services Commission.

The care center’s construction in the 1980s hasn’t seen much in the way of a “major renovation” over the years, Crippen said, noting that the veterinary clinic in particular is “very outdated.”

“Having a modern clinic in a completely different environment is a game-changer for us,” he said, adding that the updated kennels with air conditioning, along with a new entrance to better serve customers, are exciting new features.

He said construction work on the project is expected to take two years and be completed in phases, likely to start with the new buildings. The shelter will remain open while you work.

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