County getting closer to breaking ground on new HHS building

The corner of Sixth and Oak streets in Steamboat Springs will eventually be home to Routt County's new Health and Human Services Building. Before foundation work can start, the historic Selbe House must be moved to Steamboat Mountain School. This is slated to occur at the end of June, and the old Human Services building will be demolished in August. (Photo by John F. Russell)

The project to build Routt County’s new health and human services building hit a “watershed” moment last week when commissioners agreed to a preconstruction services contract.

“We are kicking this thing off for sure now,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said last week. “I think we are pretty well committed.”

The contract is with Calcon Constructors Inc. and is a precursor to a final deal for the entire project. Calcon was chosen after commissioners spent a day interviewing three finalists, and the selection committee recommended Calcon.

Getting the contractor hired at this point allows them to work with the architect, Steamboat-based Mountain Architecture Design Group, to create plans for the building that get into more intricate details like the methods and materials used on various parts of the building, Corrigan said.

The county also has hired an owner’s representative, Centennial-based Wember Inc., in recent weeks as the project gets closer to breaking ground. Demolition on the current Department of Human Services Building is slated for mid-August.

On Tuesday, commissioners were presented with a potential design change that would double the size of the basement.

The original basement design was about 2,400 square feet. This space will be used for mechanical equipment in the building and storage for the county. But in interviews for the general contractor position, candidates suggested expanding it to cover the entire building’s footprint.

“We don’t want to just add space to add space, but we are already planning the building for future use,” said Ray DuBois, county public works director.

Expanding the basement would add about $470,000 to the total cost of the building, which is currently estimated at $7.7 million but could go as high as $10 million. The larger basement would not impact the timeline.

DuBois said there are a variety of uses for the space other than storage, like offices or larger meeting rooms, though finishing those additional spaces would likely happen at a later time. The biggest question is whether the county needs the space, and commissioners are not sure that it does.

“I’m not super convinced about the idea of spending an additional ($470,000) for storage space that we don’t have an identified need for,” Commissioner Beth Melton said.

Melton said she would consider supporting extending the basement if a specific need was articulated, but she questioned putting offices or other meeting rooms in a basement that would not have a source of natural light.

Commissioner Tim Redmond said he saw potential for the basement as offices and liked the idea of having that space available for future use, especially at the price of about $150 per square foot. DuBois said upper floors of the building cost about $600 per square foot.

“I look at that, and I see potential for the future,” Redmond said.

Interim County Manager Mark Collins said he has encountered several situations where he didn’t have office space readily available for county staff.

“As we anticipate the addition of a grant administrator, already (DuBois) and I are having a conversation about where this person is going to go,” Collins said.

Commissioners will decide on expanding the basement at their next meeting in two weeks.

“I think I am leaning against it at this point, but I am not prepared to say ‘no’ today,” Corrigan said.

The original target date for moving the historic Selbe House to Steamboat Mountain School passed yesterday, as asbestos mitigation and scheduling with the moving company are taking longer than originally hoped. There was known asbestos inside the building, and the county would have needed to pay to mitigate it whether the building was being donated or not.

More asbestos was found in the chinking between the logs of the cabin. That pushed the total cost to about $25,000 for mitigation, but it won’t cause a delay in timing, because crews were already in town working on the old gondola building at Steamboat Resort.

Crews will tent the building this week to remove the asbestos. There is also some lead paint in the house that will be mitigated as well.

“We couldn’t have just demolished the building and hauled it off to the dump,” Corrigan said.

Dubois said the goal is to have the house moved by the end of June, and demolition on the current building completed by the middle of August. This would have foundation work starting in October.

“We are being extremely aggressive on this project,” Dubois said about the project’s timeline. “We would really like to have the foundation done and have everything buttoned up on that before winter really sets in.”

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