Twin projects to build a new Santa Fe County headquarters and renovate its current base of operations in the historic building on Grant Avenue are moving apace, according to officials.
The new building, the multi-story framework at 102 Catron St.—covered in bright green construction tarp at present—is expected to be complete in September of this year, just over a year after construction began. Once complete, most of the staff from the existing County Administration Building at 102 Grant Ave. will move in temporarily while the old building is renovated.
Officials expect that project to be completed in March of 2020, and some employees will move back in at that time. Departments that will make the new building their permanent home include the county clerk, assessor and treasurer, as well as the Growth Management Department.
Jaynes Corporation, an Albuquerque construction firm, is in charge of the project, which began with demolition of the building that was first a junior high and later a courthouse.
The plan includes onsite parking in a two-story parking garage, and a large public park for residents to host events or simply relax, according to Carmelina Hart, county spokeswoman. The spot might event be a good venue for weddings, she says.
"It is going to be really nice to have on-site parking, not only for staff but for the general public as well," says Vicki Lucero, building and development services manager for Santa Fe County. "It will allow citizens who are conducting business at Santa Fe County to do so more efficiently without having to spend time searching for parking around the downtown area."
The building will also include a wellness center where county employees can exercise and relieve stress, as well as a rooftop patio for outdoor lunch breaks.
Large glass windows allow natural light and views of downtown Santa Fe, according to Deputy County Manager Tony Flores, who gave SFR a quick tour last week. He says the county took steps to ensure as limited a carbon footprint as possible.
The exterior of the building is designed to match the rest of the downtown area, according to Flores, as well as the Pueblo-Regionalism style of John Gaw Meem, who designed the old county building as well as the Presbyterian Church nearby. The interior will have an open floor plan with convertible walls so adjustments to the floor plan can be made to fit the county's future needs without costly renovations.
The project is expected to cost just under $28 million, with funding coming from bonds and gross receipts tax revenue.
The old county building, which has been expanded since the 1970s to make room for more staff, will be returned to the original Meem design, including a courtyard.
The projects come not long after construction was completed on the Steve Herrera Judicial Complex downtown, a $63 million building that opened its doors in 2013 at Sandoval and Montezuma.
For County Commissioner Rudy Garcia, the new building will be an effective way to keep locals involved in an often tourist-heavy area.
"It basically gives a venue for people—let's say they live off of Airport Road—it allows them to still come into the downtown area," Garcia tells SFR. "Which I think is great for the community as a whole. Because without these public buildings in the downtown area, the downtown area becomes a T-shirt, coffee mug, gallery area."