Office space construction at Fifth and Walnut garage scheduled to start

Monday, September 19, 2011 | 2:01 p.m. CDT; updated 8:47 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 19, 2011

COLUMBIA — Columbia’s Public Purchasing Office has awarded Crawford Construction a contract to build the first three suites of the Walnut and Fifth Street parking garage’s nine-suite office space. 

The project will house Regional Economic Development Inc.’s offices.

Marilyn Starke, a public purchasing agent, said her office started advertising for construction bids on July 31. They received nine bids that ranged from $445,300to $785,879.

Crawford Construction got the job because it made the lowest and best bid, Starke said. 

The purchasing office staff, REDI President Michael Brooks, Simon Oswald Architecture architect Robbie Price, who is involved with REDI’s new office, and the city’s IT department met with Crawford at 8 a.m. Monday for a pre-construction meeting.

Starke said the office planned to follow up with a notice to proceed, which will give Crawford permission to start construction. She expected them to start Tuesday. 

Crawford Construction will have to work quickly to make a Dec. 15 project deadline, Starke said.

The city has prepared an ordinance calling for bids for a second building project that they will present at Monday evening’s City Council meeting. The project estimate is $250,561.

Jill Stedem, the Department of Public Works’ public relations specialist, said the project involves the construction of suites four through six, which will house the Parking Utility and REDI’s business incubator.

Brooks said the space for the business incubator will help REDI, which provides support for local entrepreneurial companies, develop start-up businesses in Columbia.

At its Oct. 3 meeting, council will discuss the approval of this bidding portion. The bid process can then begin to choose a contractor. Construction for this portion will begin by late November at the earliest, Stedem said.

The parking garage’s final three office suites are still open. Stedem said City Manager Mike Matthes has asked Barbara Buffaloe, Columbia's sustainability manager, to lease the spaces.

Stedem said the city will wait to start the construction bidding process until the spaces are filled.

“We don’t want to finish the spaces until we know what kind of businesses will occupy the space," she said. "That’s why the spaces were not finished when the garage was built.”

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