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Bowron fix could cost county $1M

Staff writer

Nearly $1 million could be needed to renovate an unused, historic building owned by the county into office space, but even the person who presented that information to county commissioners thought that number was high.

Marion economic director Randy Collett told commissioners Monday that a contractor’s estimate to renovate the Bowron Building in downtown Marion was higher than he would expect. Marion County Community Economic Development Corporation commissioned the inspection.

Newton-based Vogts Parga Construction LLC created the estimate after two walk-throughs by general manager Bill Zerger, who was accompanied by a roofer, estimator, and marketing representatives.

Their estimates included different phases of remodeling for office space without expanding the Main St. building, which was built in 1886.

The county had three departments — health, planning and zoning, and economic development — as building tenants until the health department moved to St. Luke Hospital in 2015. An August move by planning and zoning into a building across the street from the courthouse left the building vacant.

Estimates included $80,400 for structural improvements, $97,863 for bare wall demolition, $95,700 for electrical service upgrades, $118,800 for mechanical upgrades, $254,835 for reconstruction to mid-level standard office configurations, $138,939 for project management, and $160,109 for project contingency fees. The sum is $946,646.

“These estimates are complete remove, renovate, replace,” Collett said. “This isn’t fix what’s there, this is make it like new again.”

Demolition and electrical expenses were high estimates, Collett said, based on his personal experience.

“Having used local Marion resources, I would say that those numbers are a little high,” he said.

He added that project management expenses were high, which includes engineering fees, permits, freight, monitoring, and sales tax.

The property, which includes 3,220 square feet on each of its two floors, is appraised at $46,240.

The last major remodel was in 1960 with other maintenance work in 2009, 2010, and 2013 totaling $45,649.

A 2007 feasibility study estimated $328,978 was needed to renovate the building. It only included strengthening floor and roof joists, tuck point exterior, and installation of stairs and an elevator. BG Consultants estimated $500,000 was needed to renovate just the second floor in 2011.

This new contractor’s estimate included $85,800 to repair the roof and first floor HVAC, which need immediate attention. A complete first floor renovation included $18,125 for demolition, $42,900 for electrical, and $61,065 for a remodel.

Together, they add up to $207,890.

The second floor would take another $79,738 for demolition, $52,800 for electrical, $72,600 for HVAC, and $193,770 for a remodel, totaling $398,908.

Another $138,939 is estimated for project management, and $160,109 for project contingency fees.

“I look at some of these numbers and kind of shake my head because I know what we spent on my own building, and we didn’t approach these,” Collett said.

The study estimated cost for renovation to standard office space specifications, but Collett said the building could be used for other purposes, such as retail. Office space for county employees is an option for the building.

Four options Collett outlined included remodeling Bowron for county staff office space, selling the building, donating the building to the non-profit Marion Advancement Campaign, and demolishing the structure.

Collett included pros and cons for each of the options. He said renovation may be possible under current budget processes.

“I think the community support behind this historic structure is extremely strong, particularly in its relationship to the Elgin Hotel,” Collett said on potentially demolishing the structure. “I think that that may not be a mine you want to step on, but that would be entirely up to you.”

In other action:

  • The county is the lessee for a lease purchase agreement for 800 MHz radio purchases with seven rural fire districts and Florence, Goessel, Hillsboro, Lehigh, and Marion after commissioners approved an interlocal agreement.
  • County ambulances made 124 runs in September, three fewer than September 2016, but the most runs of any month so far this year. There were also seven first response runs, up from one. EMS director Ed Debesis said ambulances are making more runs this year than last year, attributing much of the increase to more hospital transfers.

Last modified Oct. 19, 2017

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