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Firms make pitch to lead downtown projects
No recommendation yet for building jail, courthouse
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Forsyth County News

Three teams interviewed Monday for a job managing the development of the new Forsyth County courthouse and expanded detention center.

The project manager selection committee heard from Jacobs, JLL + CPS and Carter Goble Lee on why each firm should represent the multimillion-dollar construction projects.

Voters approved the courthouse and jail facilities under a November referendum for the next round of the special local option sales tax, or SPLOST VII.

The 1-cent sales tax included an estimated $100 million for the structures, to be built across from each other on East Maple Street in downtown Cumming, as well as a parking deck.

The five-member selection committee held a closed session after the interviews to discuss the firms’ sealed proposals, but did not make a recommendation to send to the full nine-member advisory committee.

The group plans to meet again this week to make a decision.

Monday, each firm highlighted its experience in similar projects and pitched ideas on how to keep the effort within the budget and on a quick schedule.

Jacobs Engineering Group of Atlanta emphasized its plans to “maximize taxpayer value.”

Kevin English, who would become the lead project manager if selected, said the budget would be top priority during the interactive planning sessions, which would include all the parties involved.

English said the voters had set a budget that’s “aggressive, but not out of the ballpark” to complete the projects.

Jacobs would require estimates for construction at regular intervals, he said.

Carter Goble Lee, a firm based in Alpharetta, presented several examples of ways to save money on these types of facilities.

“Criminal justice is all we do,” Joe Lee said. “We know how to drive that cost down.”

If selected as project manager, Lee said his firm would work with the county to set a target for total cost of ownership of the facilities, which is the cost throughout the buildings’ life cycle.

Lee, who lives a few miles from the Forsyth line, said he wants to earn the job and take that personal role in achieving a great plan for downtown Cumming.

JLL and CPS, with a base in Atlanta, have joined to vie for the project management job.

Potential project manager Eric Johnson said he would begin by getting all the county groups involved to make 90 percent of the decisions in the first 10 percent of the project to keep the costs down.

Johnson said the long-term impact of operating costs and the future of the community would guide that process.

He discussed a recent project at the Douglas County Jail, in which no new staff will be required to run the expanded facility due to efficiencies found.

All three firms recommended a needs assessment for future expansion of the buildings.

The teams each said the connection between the jail and courthouse would be beneficial for efficiency, but also one of the greatest construction challenges.

JLL and CPS, as well as Carter Goble Lee, discussed the importance of having a team member to promote growth in the downtown area.

The proposed pricing of each firm remains sealed until the committee formally takes a vote.

The project manager selection committee was appointed by the nine-member SPLOST VII Jail/Courthouse Project Team, which is charged with the task of advising on the projects.

Members of the selecting group include Capt. Chuck Smith of the sheriff’s office; Steve Rhoades of Forsyth County Public Facilities; Tim Merritt, deputy county manager; Scott Morgan, city of Cumming Planning Department; and Dawn Childress, court administrator.