County seeks owners rep to guide building project
To ensure a smooth and cost-effective project process, Portage County Space and Properties Committee members will seek Request for Proposals (RFP) for an owner’s representative/project manager for County-City Building remodeling and a new two-story courthouse.
The committee Tuesday, May 2, unanimously approved a motion to develop an RFP for an owner’s rep in conjunction with contracting with Venture Architects to update pre-schematic layout diagrams and estimated costs to remodel the existing County-City Building for general government offices and construct a new two-story building for courts as well as a future jail.
The committee will meet again Tuesday, May 16, to review possible proposals requests to send out and continue discussion on how to form a resolution including cost estimates to bring to the County Board.
“We need to have some pretty solid information and take it to the County Board,” Chair Jeanne Dodge said. “If they’re not in support, this project isn’t going very far.”
Committee members also agreed that they did not want to go through an architectural design process that is detailed prior to acceptance from the County Board.
“I don’t want to go out and get costs … and go to County Board and have them vote it down,” Dodge said. “We’re been that route many times, we’re not going to do it again. We’re going to keep them apprised at every step.”
John Cain, architect and principal with Venture Architects of Milwaukee, the firm that has been working with the county on space and security issues since 1999, will modify existing plans and update an initial design for the new construction as well as develop a preliminary layout for the remodeling portion of the project.
Once the owner’s rep is on board, that firm will facilitate cost estimates for the remodeling and new construction.
Facilities Director Todd Neuenfeldt said he will work on a rough estimate for operating costs, which will be different and potentially higher than the previous concept. At first guess, he said, it could range between $600,000 and $800,000 annually depending on how the project is configured and the security level county officials desire.
Neuenfeldt also said he expected the total project to be at least $30 million. In 2010, a $29.5 million referendum for a new courthouse building failed 70 percent to 30 percent.
Staff also will be working on getting figures together to include in the Capital Improvement Projects Plan, which already is in the process of being put together.
In the predesign phase, Cain will work on developing a program flow to determine how departments and offices with public access might be arranged in the County-City Building compared to those that do not necessarily deal with the public often.
Part of that process may include finding out the city of Stevens Point’s position on whether they will contribute to the project and how much. The city owns about 27 percent of the building.
“Putting complimentary departments next to each other is going to drive the cost and if you go to the city and say we need, let’s say $3 million, for your part, they may say ‘we’re going to go build a new building for that,’” Neuenfeldt said.
Stevens Point Mayor Mike Wiza has previously stated he supported working with the county on options for the building, but that the Common Council is the ultimate decision maker. Wiza was not at the meeting Tuesday.
In the vote Tuesday, committee members said the RFP should include a breakout of the owner’s representative’s estimated costs to facilitate in part accumulating other estimates for third-party involvement, such as architects, excavation and construction.
County Board members voted 23-2 Tuesday, April 18, to approve a resolution that would begin planning for a major remodeling of the County-City Building and construction of a two-story courthouse downtown with the anticipation of building a jail in the same facility in the future.
The resolution allowed the county’s Space and Properties Committee to begin planning for remodeling the County-City Building and constructing the two-story building as well as look into an owners representative to manage the project.
Supervisor Dave Medin, who also serves on the Space and Properties Committee, said he wanted all supervisors and the public to be clear that this proposal came out of the public’s denial of the $78.5 million referendum in November and the County Board’s support of rejecting that project.
Those decisions mean the County Board cannot go near that figure in another building project for the jail and courts, and the County-City Building must be kept and used in some fashion, he said.
The intent of the resolution is to allow planning to move ahead with a two-story building that would be designed to house a new jail so it wouldn’t be an “add-on” in the future. Part of Tuesday’s 75-minute discussion included how the building would be constructed with mechanics to support the jail or whether those types of inclusions would be built when the new jail became a reality.