Lower price hinges on extent of remodeling

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 18, 2002

The price to add 12,000 square feet to the new judicial center and demolish the 1954 courthouse annex would be $1.345 million, according to an estimate by a construction management firm. Meanwhile, architects completed the final design of the new building &045; but the decision on the ’54 building could require further alterations in the plan.

The figures presented in a workshop meeting Monday by Mark Liska of Adolfson & Peterson Construction includes $125,000 for removing asbestos and $100,000 for restoring the northern facade of the old courthouse. An $80,000 new elevator would be installed between the new judicial center building and the old courthouse so that wheelchair users can access the entire facility.

The other option is renovating the ’54 building, and Liska submitted two different options along those lines. According to them, a total renovation of all three floors would cost $1.745 million, and a partial remodeling on just the second floor would be $755,000.

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The remodeling options need to be coordinated with the construction of the new judicial center so that offices affected by the renovation project can secure temporary space. It would make the entire project longer and more expensive as a result, BKV Group Principal Jack Boarman has indicated.

Commissioner Glen Mathiason said he was concerned that the 12,000 square-foot addition would not provide enough space to accommodate all offices. The ’54 building has 25,000 square feet. But, Boarman explained, the usable space of the building is limited to 18,000 square feet, and space for bathrooms, boilers and employee break rooms would be eliminated in the new addition by combining them with ones in the new judicial center.

Frank Gjersvik of the Save the ’54 Building Committee pointed out the economic climate is not favorable to a big project.

He reiterated the discussion the opponents of demolition raised in a meeting last week, referring to other priorities for tax money, such as lake improvement, the school district, and highways.

The committee has asked the county to table the issue for one month to gather more information. &uot;Things are moving way too first right now,&uot; Gjersvik said.

But activist Don Sorenson responded that a current lower interest rate provides an opportunity. And the demolition of the ’54 building is necessary to comply with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.

Sorenson also suggested the removal will enhance the presence of the 1888 old courthouse as a downtown icon. &uot;If we don’t attract people to the community, we are going to have a dead community,&uot; he said.

BKV Group has modified the original design of the new judicial center by incorporating suggestions from the county officials and general public.

A major adjustment was to change the facade to blend it with the adjacent old courthouse.

The new design added a large classic-style porch with two-story high pillars at the main entrance to make the new building consistent with the old courthouse’s appearance. The colors of the wall were also altered to connect the two structures seamlessly.

The architects still need to wait for the decision on the ’54 building to finalize the design, which could be made during the county board’s meeting today.