Boone County Courthouse expansion project moves forward

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | 6:29 p.m. CDT; updated 10:24 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Visitors to the Boone County Courthouse might soon find their surroundings a bit unfamiliar as the county embarks on an expansion of the courthouse annex that’s expected to take about 14 months and cost about $7.2 million.

Most services offered in the courthouse will remain there, but there will be some shuffling around as crews add two floors to the annex on the north side of the building.

The project officially began Monday, but Karen Miller, Boone County Southern District commissioner, said most of the work being done now is “mobilization, and you probably won’t notice it.” And some bids are still being reviewed to ensure they meet all requirements and specifications.

The county hired SM Wilson of St. Louis to handle project operations at a maximum cost of $653,737, Miller said. She said she and fellow commissioners decided to save money by forgoing a general contractor, hiring a construction manager and soliciting separate bids on the myriad aspects of the project. She estimated the savings to be between $576,000 and $864,000, or 8 percent to 12 percent of the expansion’s cost.

The county commission in recent weeks has been opening and awarding bids for foundation work; steelwork; roofing; windows, glass and glazing; drywall, insulation and acoustic work; flooring; painting; elevator work; plumbing; heating, air conditioning and ventilation; fire-safety features; electrical work; millwork; and other general tasks.

The expansion will create an additional 24,000 square feet of floor space, or 12,000 square feet on each new floor of the annex, said Mitchell Miller, director of preconstruction services for SM Wilson.

A one-fifth-cent sales tax that is paying for the courthouse expansion and other county building projects won the narrow approval of voters in the April 2006 election. The tax, which took effect Oct. 1, is expected to generate a total of about $14 million over three years. In addition to the courthouse work, the tax would cover the cost of work and debt on other county owned buildings, namely the third floor of the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center, the Guaranty Land Title building, Lifestyles Furniture and possibly the Johnson Building.

The courthouse expansion work is designed to accommodate the increasing space needs of the prosecuting attorney, circuit clerk, court services and administrators offices.

Miller said public access to services at the courthouse will not be disrupted.

“Some of the courthouse staff may have to be relocated to another floor once the third and fourth floors are completed,” she said. “The third floor is going to serve as a temporary location for several offices. Employees will move up while their space is being remodeled.

“As there are very few public areas in the courthouse, the citizens should not find this to be too inconvenient,” Miller added. “The only services that will be moved out of the courthouse will be those of the Mental Health Court, Drug Court and Re-Entry Court. The staff from these programs will move to the Alternative Sentencing Center at Ash Street.”

Of all the bids that were opened for the individual aspects of the courthouse project, the highest noted difference was for masonry. Dean Hathman Masonry entered the low bid at $618,000, while its closest contender, John Smith Masonry, offered to do the work for $1.99 million.

Miller explained the $1.3 million difference.

“John Smith was from St. Louis while Dean Hathman was a local contractor who was the mason on the original addition to the courthouse,” she said. “John Smith would have mobilization fees that local contractors wouldn’t. SM Wilson reviewed the scope and all quantities with the low bidder and concurred everything was included in their bid.”

Material requirements are outlined in the bid specifications. Miller said Dean Hathman will use limestone for the masonry work for the addition to the annex.

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