Justice center's look decided

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After formally awarding HLM Design of Denver an architectural contract for the county's new justice center, Routt County commissioners made some initial decisions about how they want the building to look.

The building must be a quality product, but one that does not use more taxpayer money than necessary, commissioners said.

"I think the bottom line is none of us wants a Taj Mahal building that, when our taxpayers walk in, they say, 'My gosh, how much did they spend building this?'" Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

But, she said, the goal of building at a reasonable price does not mean the county will sacrifice quality or function.

"I think we all assume this is going to be a quality constructed building," Stahoviak said.

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said he expects that higher end materials would be used in the courtrooms and some public spaces, with more cost-effective materials used in office space.

"We definitely do not want tile in the courtrooms," Monger joked. "We want nice quality wood and a texture and a finish. The rest of the office building doesn't need to be any more than what we're in right now."

The building is planned to be a little smaller than 50,000 square feet. About 7,000 square feet would be unfinished shell space, most of which is in the garden level, to provide room to grow.

Total costs for the building have been estimated at $10 million to $12 million. Those estimates include the approximately $1.1 million that could be spent on architectural fees.

The contract for basic services from HLM Design that county commissioners agreed to Tuesday is for about $874,000. There also is a menu of about $230,000 worth of optional consulting and other services that the county might use.

At their Tuesday meeting, county commissioners also decided that the new justice center likely would be built of brick with a color scheme that linked it with, but still set it apart from, the Routt County Sheriff's Office next door.

They chose to leave the center's entry area open to the second level, which Ted Halsey, a principal architect with HLM Design, called "the one architectural element you have in this building."

They also decided that the District Attorney's Offices would occupy the top floor in a space across from District Court rooms, while probation offices would occupy the garden level.

The next public meeting on the justice center will be in six to eight weeks. There, the preferred look of the building will be presented with samples of materials that could be used, as well as a professional rendering of the finished building.

According to the architect's timeline, bids for the project could be awarded by the end of June, with the building ready to move in by October 2005.

Last year, commissioners received a court order to build a new justice facility by Sept. 1, 2006.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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