Plans for remodeling the county-owned former IRS building in downtown Wichita may cost less than previously thought.
But unassigned areas in the building at 271 W. Third St. leave the final cost still undetermined.
Architecture plans presented to the Sedgwick County Commission on Tuesday estimate it will cost the county about $4.3 million to remodel the interior of the building, at $59 per square foot.
“That’s to renovate the spaces that we’ve shown to be occupied in these plans,” said Justin Graham of Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, a firm hired by the county.
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“Last time we met, our estimate was at $62.50 a square foot, so having gone through and designed it all, we’ve lowered that cost estimate some,” Graham said.
Another $255,000 for renovations to the building’s exterior and site work bring the total estimate for the remodel to $4.6 million.
The county appraiser’s office would move into offices on the first and second floors. The professional standards unit of the sheriff’s office would occupy 1,765 square feet on the first floor.
Inspectors with the Metropolitan Area Building and Construction Department would work in an area that’s about half of the fourth floor. The joint city-county department would also use the fifth floor.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Department would be on the sixth floor with 12,980 square feet of space.
That leaves 18,550 square feet of open area unoccupied by county departments, including almost the entire third floor as well as parts of the first and fourth floors.
Acting county manager Ron Holt said the only department the county had considered placing on the third floor was the administrative arm of Comcare, the county-run mental health department.
The county is “not moving on that at this current time,” Holt said, because of ongoing discussions about its future involvement in Comcare.
Graham said the third floor probably would need renovation with or without a future tenant.
“If the floor were left open, we would envision some modest renovation of the elevator lobby and corridor to get to the break room and taking care of the perimeter (of the building) with window work,” Graham said.
“There would certainly be some renovation needed with another tenant,” he added.
Commissioner Tim Norton raised concerns about renovating the third floor for a tenant after county departments are operating on other floors.
“It seems to me it’s more cost-efficient to do everything while we got folks in there doing construction and demolition,” he said.
Holt said the county hopes to issue a request for proposal, a solicitation for construction bids, in October. The construction bid should be awarded toward the end of November, according to county documents provided at the staff meeting.
Holt said the county would want to issue bonds to pay for the building and remodeling by June 2016.
Renovations to the six-floor building previously were estimated at $6 million. The county bought the building for $4.9 million in December.
The county would hope to have construction completed by the end of July 2016, with all tenants moved in by the end of August 2016.
Four county commissioners and other county officials attended the staff meeting. Commissioner Karl Peterjohn was absent.