Justice center firm chosen

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FCI Constructors, with a winning bid of slightly less than $13.5 million, will build Routt County's controversial new justice center.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday selected FCI Constructors from among four companies vying to build the facility. After adjustments to reflect changes to the project, FCI Constructors submitted a project bid of $13,354,700.

The company, which has offices throughout Colorado, submitted an original bid of $13,289,000. Of the other three bidders that were prequalified by county officials, one company dropped out of the process, and the other two offered base bids of $13,721,287 and $13.8 million.

In addition to the base bids, commissioners reviewed three additional, or "alternative," costs to the project: a wood upgrade, an additional one-year warranty and builder's risk insurance.

Tim Winter, the county's administrator for the project, recommended that commissioners approve the wood upgrade, which FCI bid at $65,700. If approved, he said, the quality of the maple wood grain would be higher, making the wood look better.

The wood was reduced to an alternative cost because county officials expected the justice center bids to be higher than they were, and officials were looking for ways to shave costs, Winter said. In its 2006 budget, the county set aside $14 million for the project, but officials said at the time that the project could cost much more because of increased construction costs.

Commissioner Nancy Stah-oviak said she wanted to make sure that the upgrade was important because there has been public comment that the project should not be extravagant.

Winter said officials spent a long time selecting materials based on longevity, cost and ease of maintenance. He also said the cost was relatively low per square foot and that the amount of woodwork has been decreased.

"The courtrooms are not encased in wood," Winter said. The nonpublic areas, he said, will be very basic in appearance as a way to keep costs down.

Commissioner Dan Ellison said he approved of the up--grade.

"I think this is totally appropriate to include the maple upgrade," he said. "This is one of the most significant structures in the county."

Winter said when the bid process was initiated, officials indicated that the lowest bidder, if the company were responsible, likely would be awarded the contract. FCI met the requirements, he said.

When all three commissioners voted to hire FCI, they agreed to include the wood upgrade. The commissioners decided not to pay for an additional one-year warranty and left open the option of purchasing builder's risk insurance.

County officials anticipate breaking ground on the center in April and estimate that construction will take about 16 months, resulting in a completion date of summer 2007.

The new justice center will be built next to the Routt County Sheriff's Office west of downtown Steamboat. The site became the subject of controversy when a group called Friends of the Justice Center campaigned for the center to build downtown. Commissioners disagreed, and they were able to move forward with plans for the west-end site after the Army Corps of Engineers granted a wetlands permit to fill 1.4 acres of wetlands at the disputed site.

On Tuesday, Stahoviak said she was pleased that the project, which has been in the works for years, was progressing and that the bids were so close.

"I envision that the justice center will be a landmark in Routt County and will be there for a long, long time," she said.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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