Knutson to manage remodel; next up architects

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The county board defined how it will move toward construction on the estimated $3.8 million Government Center remodel.

The county board unanimously voted to implement a construction manager, hiring Knutson Construction.

Knutson served the same role on the $28-million Jail and Justice Center, and commissioners said they were pleased with its work.

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“I’ve got to admit that we had great success with the Jail and Justice Center with that model, and I know that a lot of local firms were involved in the actual process over there,” Commissioner Ray Tucker said.

Knutson is also in charge of construction at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, where a $28 million, 86,000-square-foot expansion is taking place.

Though the vote on the construction manager was unanimous, it wasn’t the only option. Commissioner Jerry Reinartz talked about opening the project to bids for general contractors, rather than employ a construction manager.

Reinartz said some local companies e-mailed board members, saying they feel the construction manager approach kept out some local bidders from past projects, and that wasn’t necessary on a smaller project like a remodel.

Other board members had few doubts about hiring Knutson.

Tucker said the construction manager was a big asset during the jail construction in helping manage the project and whittle down costs.

Commissioner Tim Gabrielson also said the jail method “worked out great.”

Commissioner Mike Ankeny noted local contractors will still have opportunities to bid on the project under the construction management method.

On the Jail and Justice Center project, much of the work stayed local.

John Pristash, who was the project manager, said 72 percent of the overall jail construction work went to southeast Minnesota firms, tallying about $12 million — which included Austin companies.

Austin companies alone got about 51 percent of the work, or about $8.47 million.

However, County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said it’s never guaranteed that a local firm will win the bid.

Knutson will make a preconstruction fee of $12,500.

The board is also whittling down a list of potential architects for the remodel project, and is expected to select about five firms to interview.