County Seeks Bids on $34M Probation Office

Written by Estero Bay News

June 17, 2022

County Supervisors gave a green light to seek bids to build a new headquarters for the Probation Department and replace a building that was new when FDR was president.

County Public Works asked Supervisors to let them go ahead with a request for proposals or RFP to build a new probation HQ on the County’s Bishop Street campus. The engineer’s estimate for the project is $34.84 million, and the County has already pre-qualified three companies to bid the job.

The County chose to use the so-called “design-build” (D-BE) method to deliver the project, meaning that the company whose proposal is chosen will both design the building and construct it.

After receiving so-called “Statements of Qualifications” last October, the list of companies was narrowed to three — Harris Construction of Paso Robles, F & H Construction of Lodi, Calif., and Specialty Construction of SLO. Those three will be asked to conjure up a design and after a selection process, will have to come back to the Supervisors for approval of a final project.

“The RFP requires that D-BEs submit a conceptual design of the project they intend to construct with their proposal,” reads the staff report from project manager Margaret Mayfield, “and the RFP scoring criteria requires that greater points be awarded to the design that provides the best value to the County. The D-BE delivery method assigns design and construction responsibility to the D-BE, so selection of a D-BE is an important step towards managing the risks associated with project delivery.”

That method has only been used a couple of times by the County, including the Women’s Jail and a major upgrading of the Probation Department’s Juvenile Hall, but is supposed to cut down on things like change orders, as the same company that designed it is building it, which logic dictates should be error free or at least cut down on flubs.

Called “Casa Loma” Probation’s current office building was built in 1940 and is “outdated, in need of constant repair, short on space and ill-suited for the needs of the Probation Department,” Mayfield said. The County did a feasibility and site study in 2017 of the Bishop Street campus (the site of the old General Hospital) and chose a spot behind County Mental Health, which occupies much of the old hospital, along with Drug & Alcohol Services.

Moving the new probation building means the Child Development Resource Center won’t have to move out, something Supervisors specifically ordered back in January 2020.

As for budget, the County has already allocated $2.75 million to get to the point of selecting a contractor. The overall project includes some $342,000 for “debt issuance” costs for a total project budget of $37.6 million. The County plans to issue 25-year bonds to finance the job, as called for under a “Facilities Financing Plan.”

Financing with bonds would peg the County’s annual debt service at about $2.3 million a year (over 25 years), for a payoff of some $57.5 million. With no dedicated revenue source, the debt payments will have to come out of the County’s general fund.

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