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It no longer takes a stretch of imagination to picture county staff bustling around the new municipal complex. Walls are up, carpet is being laid and many ceilings are tiled.
The construction site still bustles with an average of 85 workers a day. The project is ahead of schedule and under budget.
The design/build contractor, Jaynes Corporation, expects everything but finishing touches to be completed by mid-March. The county will then begin moving in components such as information technology systems and training facilities staff and department heads. County Project Manager Anthony Strain, who will orchestrate moving approximately 120 people from 12 departments into the space, hopes to begin that process by May 1.
“It’s not quite as big an undertaking as the building itself, moving in, but putting together a schedule and putting those logistics into place, it’s like, wow, this is going to be an endeavor just in itself,” Strain said.
The move will be a staggered one, with departments opening their new offices as they get settled. If no unforeseen circumstances delay the process, Strain hopes to see full occupancy by late May to early June.
“We’re trying to take our time and make it a comfortable move, with the least amount of disruption to citizens services,” Strain said.
The construction company has encountered very few glitches. The largest challenge was the Iris Street construction.
“I don’t think anybody had a clue of all the unforeseen conditions that we encountered when we started digging up for the utilities,” Strain said. “This was one of the oldest parts of the complex in the old days, so there’s stuff from many generations that had been abandoned and just covered over. But I think, moving forward, we’ll look back and see that it was well worth the endeavor to get it done now. I don’t foresee any need for other improvements for a long time.”
Strain called the other major delay the most unusual he had ever encountered. Exterior tiles imported from Italy were held up in customs. That work was slated to be completed before the cold weather moved in, but Jayne has adapted to the situation by tenting work areas and running heaters so the tiles can set.
The complex consolidates many county services. The first floor will house Community and Economic Development, Public Works, Public Utilities, Historical Archives, Records Management and Council Chambers. Information Management, Human Resources, Media Services and the assessor’s and clerk’s offices are on the second floor. The county administrator, county attorney and the Community Services and finance departments are on the third floor.
Each department is self-contained, with file storage, a conference room and a small kitchenette for staff. Middle- and upper-management are in hard-walled offices, while lower-level staff will be in cubicles. The building is designed with large windows to provide natural light to all the spaces.
The council chamber holds 120 people and has state of the art technology. The room can be divided into two smaller meeting rooms. A conference room for boards and commissions is also fully equipped with the latest technology, including a trunk feed line to PAC 8, a Granicus system for video streaming and Legistar, which provides agenda documents for the video streaming.
Community members have access to five multi-purpose conference/classrooms. Strain said residents have also expressed interest in renting the plaza next to the main entrance for recitals or community events.
“That was the way this was envisioned, as a multi-purpose space,” Strain said.
Additional services include five kiosks for the 311 center on the ground floor, a secure lock box for utility payments outside and Strain is working with the postmaster to have a mail box in the parking lot.
“We’re trying to get back to a holistic approach of one-stop shopping,” Strain said.
The goal is to make it easier for those doing business with the county, but Strain said the consolidation will also have a financial impact.
“When I started putting some numbers together, bringing us all back together is going to be a significant savings for the county overall. And right now, with our budgetary constraints, it really is going to help a lot,” Strain said.
Not only will consolidating departments eliminate the cost of mobile structures currently housing various departments, it will cut down on transportation costs such as gas and vehicle maintenance for travel between those units.
The structure’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold rating should also net substantial savings in energy costs over the long run.
The design elements of the building incorporate both the old and the new. A tile fresco from the council chambers in the old municipal building will be installed on the second floor. A skylight running the length of the building not only provides natural light, but echoes a similar feature in the old municipal building.
“That’s important because the old building was endeared to a lot of people, so one goal was integrating some of those design elements, since a lot of people were disturbed at losing the old building,” Strain said. “I thought that was really nice approach by the council. I don’t know that you get that type of interaction by a lot of municipal governments and their people.”
The outside architecture was designed to blend with nearby structures like the Bradbury, and Strain feels the complex will benefit the downtown area.
“This building has really gone a long way to enhancing property values and the appeal of downtown,” Strain said. “A lot of folks questioned, were we building it in the right spot. And I think history will prove that this was a good move for the downtown streetscapes and bringing business.”