Politics blog

State plans Wednesday public forum on shaky State Patrol headquarters project

OlympianMarch 17, 2014 

The so-called "1063 building," located on the edge of the state Capitol Campus, would be demolished and replaced with a new building housing the Washington State Patrol - if previous state plans for the site are kept alive.

WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF ENTERPRISE SERVICES

This post has updated information.

A major office building project on the northern edge of the state Capitol Campus went into limbo last week when the Legislature adjourned without passing a supplemental capital construction budget. But officials at the Department of Enterprise Services are going ahead with a public forum on Wednesday evening that would unveil three possible design options on the more than 200,000-square-foot office proposal.

The new building would serve as headquarters for the Washington State Patrol but also have space for portions of other smaller state agencies. The forum was planned months ago to explain what the project looks like in three scenarios mapped by teams of consultants.

“This is our intention right now to go ahead with the public meeting and have the design teams at the meeting,” said Curt Hart, spokesman for Enterprise Services. 

The meeting is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Office Building 2 auditorium at 1115 Washington St. S.E., on the east Capitol Campus. Update: Those unable to attend but wanting to follow along online can get information about live-streaming the presentations here at DES.

Three teams of architectural firms and builders have submitted bids – all of which include detailed drawings that have not yet been made public. A design review panel was formed by DES to review the proposals and select the winner, who would have gone on to design the project. A bid might not be awarded, but the selection process also is going forward, and announcement of the apparent winning design is expected sometime in the afternoon of March 28, Hart said.

Hart said the state will have spent about $1.5 million for the first selection phase of the project and the high public interest make it worthwhile to take steps to get design ideas for the site out to the public for consideration.

The project is in limbo in part because financing costs are now expected to be much higher than the Legislature assumed when it authorized the project in 2013, according to House Capital Budget Committee chairman Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish. 

Without a capital budget proviso adjusting cost-per-square-foot limits on the project, it cannot go forward, according to Dunshee and his Senate counterpart, Republican Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside. But without a capital budget proviso taking away unspent funds, the state still could tap up to $13 million to demolish existing structures on the project site, Dunshee and Honeyford agree.

If no bid is awarded, the state would still owe the bidders $200,000 each. The bids are good for only 120 days, so if the project is delayed, the state likely would have to rebid the project in some way.

The site is a city block that includes a parking garage and older office building that once housed a children’s museum. Because the site faces the Capitol Campus and is considered a "hinge" between the Capitol and downtown Olympia, Democratic Sen. Karen Fraser of Thurston County and community members have expressed public worry about the design.

In part at Fraser's behest, the Capitol Campus Design Advisory Committee is expected to review the three proposals at 8 a.m. Thursday.

The State Capitol Committee will follow with its own review at 10. The State Capitol Committee includes a representative of the governor, as well as the lands commissioner, secretary of state and lieutenant governor, and it typically has a voice on whether Capitol Campus projects move forward. This project is using a design-build approach that appears to bypass the typical reviews.

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