The city of Olathe is under the gun to vacate employees from the old City Hall building at 100 Santa Fe St. this fall to make way for the new Johnson County Courthouse.
Olathe officials last month bought the county’s Juvenile Justice Field Office at 135 S. Kansas Ave. for $1.2 million to replace the current home of its information technology department. But it now must pay to renovate the 12,000-square-foot building and move the 27 employees by November before the county begins demolishing the Santa Fe property.
Michael Meadors, who oversees city buildings, told the City Council on Tuesday that the city needs to replace both the building’s heating and cooling system and its electrical system and install a sprinkler system, in addition to normal interior repairs.
“This facility is going to require extensive renovation,” Meadors said.
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The council was scheduled to be asked July 18 to approve a $1.3 million contract with Shawnee-based Construction DesignWorks LLC to renovate the Kansas Avenue site with design work expected to begin the next day. Meadors said the renovation must be complete by Nov. 17 with the IT workers relocating three days later.
Looking at the proposal, Councilman Larry Campbell questioned the need for a sprinkler system, which he estimated would be the most time-consuming portion of the entire project and one of the most costly. He said he doesn’t understand the fire department requirement for sprinklers in a single-story building where people aren’t sleeping or trapped and exits are readily accessible.
“Our employees need to be safe,” he said. “But if you’re awake in a building, the sprinklers will protect the property, but I don’t see the added risk of not having sprinklers to the people.”
Olathe is donating the former City Hall as well as other city-owned property downtown for the new courthouse that will be built one block north of its current location, directly west of the current City Hall.
Cost for the renovations to the Kansas Avenue property will come from the estimated $33 million in proceeds the city expects to receive over 10 years as its share of the quarter-cent sales tax that voters approved last fall to pay for the courthouse, said city spokesman Tim Danneberg.
To speed up the project, City Manager J. Michael Wilkes said the city has for the time being delayed nearly any work on the building. He said the city would work with downtown consultants in the future to update its look once the renovations are complete.
“For an investment in the downtown, we were concerned that we make a little bit stronger statement.” Wilkes said.
In other business, the council held its first workshop on the proposed 2018 budget.
Spending from the general fund, which covers the majority of the city’s operations, is proposed to grow 2.7 percent to $102.6 million next year.
Council members plan to hold additional workshops on July 18 and 25 ahead of a scheduled public hearing on Aug. 1 and final adoption of the spending plan on Aug. 15.
David Twiddy: email@example.com