After three years of construction, Pennington County, South Dakota, is ready for the October ribbon cutting on the centerpiece of a multi-phase project that includes an expanded parking garage, a new criminal evidence building and a $31 million, 100,00 sq
After three years of construction, Pennington County, South Dakota, is ready for the October ribbon cutting on the centerpiece of a multi-phase project that includes an expanded parking garage, a new criminal evidence building and a $31 million, 100,00 sq. ft. administration center.
The new building project was bid in April 2012 — a time when the economic downturn was being keenly felt. Construction project manager Mike Kuhl believes the timing was fortuitous for everyone.
“It did create a very good bidding environment for us,” Kuhl said. “We hoped that we would get a local contractor, but we did not rate bids in terms of selecting a local contractor. It just worked out that way. At the time local contractors were looking for work and we were pretty confident we would get a local contractor.”
The county also was able to take advantage of some special federal government bonding programs that were made available during the downtown to shovel-ready projects
The new projects are two blocks from the county’s original courthouse, built in 1922 at a time when the county population was only about 12,000. Today, it’s nearly nine times that amount at about 105,000. The drive behind the project is to move county staff out of the courthouse so the courthouse can expand court space.
The $4.5 million addition of two floors and a roof to the parking structure was the first project to be completed in the Rapid City master plan. That job, completed by local contractor Heavy Constructors, called for the closure of one street for about the length of a block and for at least one very big piece of equipment.
“It was a Manitowok 1600 crane with a 300-foot boom, capable of lifting 400 tons,” Kuhl said. “It did draw some attention. They had to lay a lot of large old railroad ties on the street to keep it from breaking the street up.”
Next up, Scull Construction Services worked a tight schedule to build new evidence facility while the original remained intact.
“It was actually a metal building that had to be demolished to make way for the new administration building,” Kuhl said. “We had some phasing to coordinate. We had to do some foundation work before the administration building was built. That required some coordination as there was a limited amount of time to execute that move. We only built a month into our schedule to get that move happening. Of course there wasn’t a lot of flexibility built in there. To keep everything on schedule, the contractor was still trying to some testing and balancing on the evidence building while we were moving in.”
The evidence building also houses the energy plant for the administration building.
“It is a geothermal system,” Kuhl said. “Underneath the parking lot, we have a number of wells drilled to help us generate — pull heat from or reject heat into the ground — through a multi-stage chiller system. It produces the heating and cooling water for the facility.”
The administration building is constructed of brick and precast concrete and features significant glass curtains, Kuhl said.
Once the ribbon cutting ceremony occurs on Oct. 24, the county will turn its attention to the third phase of the project — renovation work on the old courthouse. The $9.75 million renovation will include the addition of about 24,000 sq. ft. to the existing 60,500 sq. ft. building.