Inyo County is approaching the end of its “non-binding” agreement to research construction of a consolidated office building. But before moving into the binding phase of the project, it is planning to confer with residents and gauge public opinion.
The Inyo County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to host a series of meetings in August to present the design and financial plan for the building and hear input from residents.
The community meetings will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6 in the County Administrative Center in Independence; 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12 at Statham Hall in Lone Pine; and 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19 in Bishop at a location to be determined.
At those meetings, county staff will present local residents with the preliminary plan to support the construction of a consolidated office building at the intersection of Wye Road and U.S. 6 in Bishop.
As proposed, Bishop’s Joseph Enterprises, Inc. would construct the office building on its 3.3 acre parcel on Wye Road in exchange for a piece of county property south of Jack in the Box in Bishop, adjacent to the County Yard.
If the project proceeds, the county will pay regular lease fees on the property and three payments of $250,0000 (one payment every five years) over 20 years. At the end of the 20 years, Joseph Enterprises will sell the building to the county for $1.
County Administrative Officer Kevin Carunchio said Tuesday that he is proud that the county has come this far, obtaining a preliminary site plan, with very little cost to the taxpayers as Joseph Enterprises has agreed to handle the preliminary work as part of the non-binding agreement to research the feasibility of building a new consolidated facility.
“We’re moving into the final part of the non-binding design phase of the exclusive negotiation agreement,” Carunchio said. “The process will begin at (Tuesday’s) board meeting when we provide a project retrospective and update and present the draft preliminary space plan developed by the developer’s architects – at no cost to the county – based on departmental input regarding their needs.”
After the community meetings, Carunchio said county staff will return to the Board of Supervisors to review the draft preliminary space plan, “and receive board direction with regard to any changes they may want in the building space plans based on their review and public input.”
Joseph Enterprises’ architect, Ware Malcomb, will revise the space plan, incorporating county direction before the board considers its final non-binding approval of the project
“Once the space plans are finalized,” Carunchio said, “the Term Sheet approved last year will be revisited to correlate to the actual building size (currently 42,000-45,000 square feet, with room for change). Only after all that, if the board gives the go ahead, will the work begin on final ‘deal’ documents which would be brought back in a few months for consideration of final, binding approval.”
The current preliminary site plan was developed through a series of discussions with county employees and managers who work in leased office space in Bishop.
Deputy Public Works Director Jim Tatum said Tuesday that the new building will address space needs for the county’s Bishop offices, and provide meeting space for up to 100 people, which will help save the county money when it comes to renting space for public meetings in Bishop.
Currently, the county is leasing six office buildings for 43,000 square feet of office space in Bishop.
The annual lease costs for the new building will not be determined until final building designs and site plans are completed, but Real Estate Economist Allan Kotin told the board on Tuesday that within 60 years, the county could save as much as $67 million, “and that completely ignores the fact that you have an asset, something you own.”
Carunchio said he has not completely identified how to manage lease payments and the three bulk $250,000 payments, but added that he is confident that money spent on current leases, with the addition of some special funds, including Coso Geothermal royalties and money in a criminal justice facility trust, could be enough to pay for the new building.
Residents are encouraged to attend one of all of the public meetings to hear the county’s plan for the building and weigh in with their thoughts or concerns.