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Firm picked to raze downtown structures

Work will make way for new courthouse

POSTED: January 10, 2013 12:32 a.m.

The Forsyth County courthouse and jail project is proceeding on schedule as commissioners on Tuesday chose a company to demolish some existing downtown structures to clear the way.

Gainesville-based Industrial Facilities Solutions will handle the demolition of the former county parking deck and building across the street from the current courthouse.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to award the $385,000 bid, which is about $100,000 under budget, said project manager Joe Lee.

According to procurement director Donna Kukarola, work will start this month, beginning with the required removal of asbestos and abatement in some of the buildings facing Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

She said the small area of the downtown Cumming site will require tall fencing, which should go up shortly, to secure it. The company is expected to complete the work within 45 days of receiving the go-ahead.

The existing 246-space deck closed Dec. 28 to prepare for the demolition.

The commission also received an update on the project, which voters approved in November 2011 as part of the next round of the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST VII.

The projects are estimated to cost about $100 million, or nearly half of the anticipated revenue from the six-year tax collection that begins in July.

Commissioners ratified the final contract in the project Tuesday for construction manager at risk.

Turner Construction and Winter Construction have joined together for the project, with a bid of about $1.85 million in fees.

The guaranteed maximum project price is expected at about $76 million, though that amount is not exact or finalized, said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

Construction is scheduled to begin in July and last about 18 months, with completion set for the end of 2014, Lee said.

The renovation of the existing courthouse will follow, and that building is expected to house Magistrate and Probate courts, as well as court administration, he said.

“We believe it’s going to be a premiere project,” Lee said, adding that the team will not exceed its $100 million budget.

Commissioners also agreed with the recommendations of the project team to demolish the existing jail and build two new parking decks.

A study of the existing jail showed repair costs totaling about $3.5 million, compared to a replacement of about $4.8 million, which led Lee to recommend demolishing the current jail as the most cost-effective, long-term option.

The commission also agreed with the recommendation to split parking between the two proposed sites: behind the county administration building and at a lot on the corner of Castleberry and Maple streets.

Dividing the parking into 450 spaces at the administration building and 250 by the Tyson’s plant is intended to disperse traffic and provide a better transition during construction, said Doug Shaw of architect firm Wakefield & Beasley.

Lee added that both decks will have the ability to be expanded by one or two levels.

County Manager Doug Derrer said discussions with the city of Cumming are under way to allow use of its parking lot for the deck and to abandon Mason Street, which runs behind the county building.

Both of those agreements are needed to allow for construction of the current design, Derrer said.

“Even though you haven’t seen any dirt move yet,” he said, “there’s a lot of work that’s gone into this to this date.”


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