Steamboat Springs Wednesday's dedication of the new Routt County Justice Center, and a massive move to the new facility this weekend, clear the way for county officials to renovate the downtown Routt County Courthouse and Courthouse Annex.
Tim Winter, the county's building and plant director, said the upcoming project will preserve the historical courthouse on Lincoln Avenue while utilizing space vacated by the 14th Judicial District. The project includes remodeling the Courthouse Annex to provide additional space for county departments, and bringing the county's Department of Environmental Health and coroner's office to the downtown campus.
Those two departments are currently housed in rental space near Oak and Fourth streets.
After the renovations are completed, the Routt Board of County Commissioners will move its offices and meeting room to the third floor of the courthouse.
County Manager Tom Sul-livan said the project is meant to keep county services in downtown Steamboat.
"The biggest part of this is that we wanted to maintain our county services on our downtown campus," he said. "That's what it's all about."
The entire project is expected to take about a year to complete, Sullivan said, at a cost of about $3.5 million.
The county has received a $1 million Department of Local Affairs Energy Impact grant and a $250,000 State Historical Fund grant for the project. The county intends to apply for a second $250,000 state grant to further fund the project during the grant's next cycle, Sullivan said.
Holmquist-Lorenz Const-ruction has been hired as the project's contractor, Winter said.
Golden-based Andrews & Anderson Architects will handle the design of the project. The company designed Centennial Hall and the new Steamboat Springs Community Center, which is under construction west of downtown.
"We've chosen them because they have a good reputation with historic preservation work," Winter said of Andrews & Anderson. "We've just completed the final designs on everything."
Winter said the upcoming construction project is contingent on three phases. The first will be the demolition and development of the third floor of the courthouse. The former district courtroom will become the commissioner's meeting room. Offices for the county manager, county attorney and commissioners will be located on that floor, as well as three or four smaller meeting rooms that could eventually become office space, Sullivan said. The first phase also will create space in the former District Attorney's office on the first floor of the annex for the county's road and bridge and personnel departments.
Once the commissioners and other offices vacate the second floor of the annex, the second phase of the project will begin, Winter said.
The annex will be remodeled for the county's planning, geographic information system and information technology departments.
The third phase of the project will develop as the project moves forward, but should create space for the county's building department - where county planning currently is located, Winter said.
Environmental Health Direc-tor Mike Zopf said moving from the department's "sweet little house" back onto the main campus will streamline his job.
"It would be more efficient for us to be with the offices we work most closely with, which is planning and building," he said. "We're thrilled."
Fitting in place
Winter likened the upcoming project to a puzzle.
"It's like one of those Chinese or tin puzzles where you have to move one piece to get another one in," he said. "That's how I think of my remodel projects."
Sullivan said the $250,000 historical fund grant will be used to reseal the courthouse's roof and make the courthouse's 102 windows more energy efficient.
Other projects include replacing the courthouse's mechanical system and lighting, also for energy efficiency.
Talk of putting solar panels on the courthouse is underway but not confirmed, Sullivan said.
"We're committed to using this building, keeping it and maintaining it," Winter said. "The intent is to keep the county presence on the downtown campus even though the courts moved out west. The county operations will remain."
Because the courts have moved out of the building, traffic congestion shouldn't be a problem, Winter said. The construction company will use the 10 to 12 parking spaces in the courthouse's east lot for construction trailers and other equipment, he said.
"We'll be monitoring it and making whatever changes we need to," he said.
Winter said work on the courthouse could begin Oct. 1.