Jan 7, 2011 4:57 PM by Zach Thaxton
Work will begin in earnest shortly on relocating more than 1,000 El Paso County employees into new and renovated office space amid a massive shuffle of county offices, agencies, and services -- a project budgeted at $50.5 million.
"Just in a matter of even a few weeks, you'll see a lot of hammers flying to get things done," said Dennis Hisey, chairman of the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioners on Thursday approved a plan to relocate their own offices and meetings from the existing County Office Building on East Vermijo Street to Centennial Hall on Cascade Avenue. Moving to Centennial Hall was the original plan devised in April 2010, however that plan involved knocking out interior walls and doing a complete renovation to make the 1970s-era facility efficient for office space. "We have since decided against doing that," Hisey said. Instead, existing space at Centennial Hall will be modified to accomodate offices and cubicles and the building's auditorium will undergo improvements to host commissioners' hearings. "We'll take our dias, our sound system, we'll go plug that in over there," Hisey said.
To facilitate the move by commissioners and other associated offices and staff from the County Office Building to Centennial Hall, most of the Clerk and Recorder's staff will relocate from Centennial Hall to the former Intel facility off Garden of the Gods road, a facility referred to by county staff as "Corporate Ridge." About a half-dozen Clerk and Recorder's office staff members will remain at Centennial Hall to handle public services such as driver's license renewal and voter registration.
Once the County Office Building is vacated, it will undergo minimal renovations in order to accomodate the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, which will relocate its offices, training academy, and other services onto East Vermijo Street. "[The Sheriff] will have the whole building and will have control over who's able to come and go, which is important for him," said Hisey. "He needs a secure facility."
The most elaborate and expensive part of the relocation is preparation of the Corporate Ridge facility to house the Department of Human Services (about 18 DHS employees have already relocated there), Department of Health and Environment, Clerk and Recorder's office, and Pikes Peak Workforce Center. When Intel abandoned the facility, it left behind millions of dollars worth of office equipment, furniture, supplies, and technology, a fully-furnished fitness center, and a massive kitchen and cafeteria complete with unused chinaware and capable of serving 1,200 meals per day. The county will be able to use much of what was left behind, but it will have to completely build out the facility's second floor, which was unused by Intel and is a concrete shell. Building out the second floor will cost around $6 million, three times the price to renovate the first and third floors combined, which were comprised mainly of cubicles and conference rooms. In all, renovations to Corporate Ridge are expected to cost nearly $14 million, including extensive repairs to the building's roof and electrical system.
Although no firm time frame has been established for completion of renovations and relocation, Hisey says moving will begin in stages this year and he hopes everything will be completed sometime in 2012.