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Johnson County renovation project likely going out to bid next month
Public hearing on June 1 before initial phases of project go out to bid
IOWA CITY — The first phases of the Johnson County administrative campus renovation are likely going out to bid in early June — with construction anticipated to start in August — after months of review, redesign and discussions of how to keep costs down.
The $10.2 million initial project includes renovating the Health and Human Services building and the county administration building, which are located along S. Dubuque Street in Iowa City.
The campus renovation has been in discussion since 2017. It originally was estimated at $15 million, but the cost increased to $27.9 million after a redesign that added scope. In January, the Board of Supervisors indicated support for moving forward with the project, but in phases. Supervisors plan to use county reserves and federal pandemic aid to pay for the project.
The $10.2 million cost covers the first two phases of the project. Supervisors have not yet talked about how much the board is willing to spend on the overall project cost.
The board has heard updates from OPN Architects, with the most recent update presented at last week’s work session. It included the updated cost for phase one and two, which includes the administration building and county Health and Human Services level three.
“This is really a transformational moment,” said Justin Bishop, a principal at OPN Architects. “The before-and-after photos will be dramatic, but I think the lasting impact on perhaps the culture and the people in the space is pretty exciting, too.”
The board set a public hearing at last week’s formal meeting for June 1 on the proposed plans, specifications, contract and estimated cost for the remodel project.
If approved by the board next week, the $10.2 million project will go out to bid on June 6 with a deadline of July 11. The supervisors will review bids during their work session on July 19 and construction is anticipated to start Aug. 1.
“We have looked at this multiple times and from various angles,” Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglass said last week. “I think that we're at that critical point that we need to move forward.”
County officials and staff have said the project is necessary to improve safety, experience, customer service and accessibility for county employees and the public.
The guiding principles of the project have been safety, wellness, equality, human experience and functionality. This includes allowing for remote work, having a sustainable design, adding accessibility, increasing customer service and ensuring long-term adaptability, among other priorities.
James Bechtel, project and systems analyst for the county, said last week the update is a “culmination of a lot of review” and a milestone before staff begin to prepare the bid package.
“We've been deep in the details,” Bishop added.
The construction cost of $10.2 million includes its current scope, furniture, site work and contingency. Before the May update, the last time the board heard from OPN Architects and staff was March 22, Bechtel said, when supervisors heard about cost reduction strategies.
Staying on schedule for construction will be critical to ensure that the Auditor’s Office — which is in the administration building — is ready to go ahead with overseeing the 2024 general election, said Zach Writer, an architect at OPN Architects.
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