Routt County hires architect for new Health and Human Services building

Mountain Architecture Design Group, based in Steamboat Springs, has been hired as the architect on the new Routt County Health and Human Services building project after completing schematic drawings for the project last year. This image shows two different exterior designs for the building, one with red brick and the other with blonde brick. (Screenshot)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County has officially hired an architect for the new Health and Human Services building project, which should break ground this summer on the corner of Sixth and Oak streets in Steamboat Springs.

The new facility will replace the current human services building in the same location that, had the county decided to keep it, would have required significant expense to do needed updates and repairs.

The new building will house both the Routt County Human Services Department as well as the Public Health Department, the latter of which is currently shoehorned into the Annex building behind the historic Routt County Courthouse.

“With this new building, we will have provided for the space needs for both human services and public health for decades to come,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said.

Steamboat-based Mountain Architecture Design Group has been hired as architect for the project after producing some initial designs and renderings of the project last year.

“We’ve actually been engaged with the architectural group on the schematic design for over a year now, and it really just makes sense to stick with the same firm that created the schematic design,” said Ray DeBois, public works director for Routt County.

The construction plan laid out in January, which included two months to hire an architect, planned for foundation work starting in November and finishing around the end of the year. Corrigan said not only does the winter make concrete work more difficult but also more expensive because contractors would need to heat the work area.

A rendering of the new Routt County Health and Human Services Building from the west side shows some of the patio and outdoor space it will have. (Screenshot)

DuBois said hiring an architect now could save the project three to four months in the end, moving a finish date into late next year instead of early 2023.

Next, the county needs to hire an owner’s representative for the project, and interviews for that job were conducted last week. DuBois said the plan is to go before the Routt County Board of Commissioners to officially make the hire later this month, and that person will play a large role in hiring a general contractor for the project.

The cost of the building has been estimated at nearly $7.7 million, but Corrigan said other costs would likely bring the total to closer to $10 million. Still, the county doesn’t plan on borrowing any money, instead having enough in reserves to cover the cost.

Corrigan said being able to cover the costs is a testament to the pay-as-you-go policies they have for capital expenses, but the county has also been lucky, having extra reserves in its health care self-insurance fund as well as sales tax numbers that beat budgeted figures despite the pandemic.

The county has also been setting aside some money for capital projects in recent years in anticipation of potential work on a new building, Corrigan said.

The building’s exterior has been designed to transition from the flat-roofed buildings downtown and at the historic Routt County Courthouse to the more residential-structured buildings on Oak Street.

Last fall, Corrigan, interim County Manager Mark Collins and Chancie Keenan, an architect with Mountain Architecture, toured downtown Steamboat picking out features and materials used in other buildings hoping to adapt some of them to use in the new building.

While considered at one time, the historic Selbe House that currently sits on the property will not be incorporated into the new building, and the county is looking for someone interested in moving the building. Collins said they have already started to have some inquiries.

Commissioner Beth Melton said the county has also received emails questioning how committed the county is to relocating the building, which she responded to by emphasizing that preserving the building is important.

“I’m not sure why there was an assumption that if we don’t have a good bid by March 22, we were just going to bulldoze the building. That is not the intent at all,” Melton said, adding that if the current plan doesn’t find a taker for the building, they will work to figure something else out.

The county is prepared to help with the relocation of the building and wants interested people to explain in their proposals what kind of support they would need to make moving the building realistic.

“Demolition of that building is really not on the radar screen. We are going to find a home for that place,” Corrigan said. “We may need to jump through some hoops to make that happen, but we are going to make that happen.”

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