The winning bid to build a new library downtown has come in at $14.6 million.

The East Baton Rouge Parish library system is replacing the River Center branch on St. Louis Street next to City Hall. Five companies bid on the project, which was budgeted for $15.1 million. Factoring in expenses such as designs, furnishings and demolition of the old building, the project will cost $19 million total, according to a Monday news release.

Baton Rouge firm Buquet & LeBlanc put in the bid recommended by the Department of Public Works, which evaluated the proposals.

The library board must still go to the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council for approval of the project before construction may begin. Tearing down the old structure and building the new one will take 24-30 months, the release states.

During construction, the library will offer abbreviated services from the Kress Building, 447 Third St.

The new building features a modern design and a cantilever hanging over the North Boulevard Town Square. It will be able to accommodate nearly 1,000 visitors on four levels.

Library authorities said they needed to replace the old, technologically out-of-date building at the site, though some criticized the decision, saying the library system should spend the money improving other facilities.

The system has saved up for the project and will be able to afford construction without issuing any bonds or incurring debt, the release states.

“I’m excited that we had such a healthy response to the invitation to bid,” board President Kizzy Payton said in a statement.

“And I’m delighted that after such a long and complex process, with plenty of community input and participation, we are fast approaching the point where we can begin construction.”