County Preps For Building Project

The Marshall County Commission is seeking bids for the demolition of two houses – a component of its plans to renovate the former Jozabeth’s clothing store for use as a public safety building.

According to a legal ad, the county commission needs a contractor to tear down the two buildings located behind the former retailer, along with some select interior walls inside of it along with its ceiling. The county purchased the 20,000-square-foot Jozabeth’s and houses in 2012 for $846,000 from the Magnone family.

“Those were rental homes. Those have been emptied – the people moved out months ago,” said Commissioner Brian Schambach.

The property is situated between Seventh and Eighth streets, across from the county courthouse. When renovations are complete, it will house the county 911 center, sheriff’s department and emergency management agency.

Commissioners had considered adding on to the courthouse to make more room for those agencies, but realized they could save an estimated $3 million by renovating the former Jozabeth’s building instead. Previous estimates for the building addition stood at $8 million. Schambach said Thursday the commission is not sure how much the renovation will cost today, as items such as replacing infrastructure inside the building still must be tallied.

“When we get it all together we will put it out to bid probably in late April,” he said of the actual renovation work.

The commission has been putting money away in a building fund for several years in anticipation of the project.

“There is $3,087,903 in the Financial Stabilization Fund and $5,666,630 in a Building Fund,” said county Administrator Betsy Frohnapfel.

While bids are being taken until March 18, a pre-bid meeting is slated for 11 a.m. March 4 in the commission chambers, located in the basement of the courthouse. When the pre-bid meeting ends, a mandatory meeting will take place at the site.

In addition to providing more space for the county agencies, the purchase also will give the county 60 parking spaces.