The inside of the old Nowell’s Food building is nothing more than a maze of wall frames, but by mid-April the transformation of the former grocery store at Worley Street and West Boulevard into a modern, comprehensive health facility will be complete.
For Stephanie Browning, Health Department director, being excited about the relocation is an understatement. The department now is in the Howard Municipal Building at 600 E. Broadway, where offices are scattered across three different floors and two to three employees are crammed into offices made for only one.
“This building was never designed to be a health department,” Browning said.
The new building, Browning said, will help the department meet its goal of serving the whole community.
Browning said that during high-volume periods such as the flu-shot season, the current location gets extremely crowded.
More Space, More Services
In addition to an increase in meeting and workspace, the new health building will feature areas that provide additional services to the community.
It will have a 110-seat, auditorium-style training and meeting room, plus a demonstration kitchen to focus on such issues as proper nutrition and childhood obesity, Browning said. There will be a total of 12 exam rooms and two waiting areas.
The building will have a total of 50,000 square feet. One-third of the floor space will be taken up by the Family Health Center, while the remainder will house the Columbia/Boone County Health Department.
The total cost of the project is $4.1 million: Boone County will pay $2.9 million of the cost and the city $1.2 million. The county will cover the cost of the new Family Health Center.
Dan Darnell, building regulations supervisor for the city of Columbia, said the project has stayed on budget and kept up with the original timeline for construction. The actual construction costs will be $2.9 million.
“The ultimate success of the project depends on the expertise of the contractor,” Darnell said, praising the efficiency and skill of the general contractor, Coil Construction Co. of Sedalia. While walking across the new slab floor of the building, he noted the flawless nature of the work.
Sean Siron, construction superintendent, said the health building is the largest project his company has done for the city. The company also is working on a new building for the City Water and Light Department on the Business Loop.
The Remodeling Process
At the health building, workers are starting to install drywall as well as electricity and plumbing. In three weeks, work on the outside of the building will begin. The front of the building will feature glass panels and two large rotundas intended to give the building a distinct look.
Everything from the old Nowell’s Food grocery store was removed except for its walls. The new building will be more thermally efficient, with a new white roof that reflects sunlight.
The Family Health Center will move into the building in April, immediately after its lease at 1500 Vandiver Drive expires.