TWIN FALLS — Just as work wraps up on the last two blocks of the Urban Renewal Agency’s Main Avenue project, city employees are preparing to move to a new home.
On Monday, desks will arrive at the future City Hall — the former Banner Furniture building at Main Avenue East and Hansen Street. The $5.7 million remodel is nearly complete, as contractors work to finish drywall, painting, grouting and exterior siding.
Meanwhile, police officers will move next week into their operations building at the $9.5 million public safety complex.
And it appears that both city projects are on time and on budget.
“They need about two weeks to put those desks together,” said Jason Derricott, project manager for Starr Corp. — the city’s construction manager/general contractor for both jobs. “They will be out of the temporary City Hall by the end of October.”
He expects city staff to begin moving into their new home in the last week of October — starting with utility billing on the first floor, and followed by administration on the third floor and engineering on the second.
The new City Hall will open in November, Derricott said.
While awaiting the completion of Main Avenue’s reconstruction, Julie Deters at Benno’s Fine Jewelry hopes the new City Hall next door will attract more people to Main Avenue. Her family-owned and -operated business has been downtown for 57 years.
For Deters, construction has gone about as expected on the block between Hansen Street and Idaho Street.
“They’ve made a lot of progress,” she said.
Work here is pretty much on schedule. Having begun in August, it will be complete by the end of October, Guho Project Superintendent Rob Cloninger said.
But not every part of the URA’s $6.4 million Main Avenue reconstruction has gone as scheduled. The final block, from Idaho to Jerome streets, won’t be complete until mid-November.
“We’re pretty close to being on target,” Cloninger said. “For a project of this size, to be as close as we are is pretty good.”
The good news: The project is under budget, thanks in part to savings on tree removal and brick pavers.
The festival blocks off of Shoshone Street took longer than the two months they were projected to.
“When we made that two-month commitment, that was before we had even put anything out to bid,” Cloninger said.
He’s been more than satisfied with the half-dozen subcontractors Guho hired, but he didn’t have the numbers of skilled manpower needed to complete the project as quickly as planned.
“Our problem throughout Idaho is skilled, qualified manpower is hard to come by,” Cloninger said.
The third block of the project — from Shoshone Street to Hansen Street — was opened Friday.
The delay didn’t discourage Tony Prater of Jensen Jewelers from making some improvements of his own. Prater, who served on an advisory committee for the Main Avenue reconstruction, decided to put his money where his mouth was.
On Oct. 3, his downtown business got a new $20,000 storefront and logo — part of a company rebranding.
“I wanted this to be the first place where we invested the money because of what’s going on downtown,” he said.
In time for Oktoberfest, he also brought in new display cases and about $200,000 worth of new merchandise.
And his is just one example of private investment made during construction. On that same block, The Gyro Shop owners opened an ice cream shop and Extreme Staffing began remodeling the former home of Toy Orphanage and Things.
“Overall, I think it went very well,” Prater said. “Oktoberfest was a good boost to business down here.”
Twin Beans Coffee owner Paul Graff said his business increased from last year — but he estimates that during construction it was down about 20 percent from where it could have been.
“I think we fared better than most,” he said.
The final piece of Main Avenue’s reconstruction will include paving Hansen Street from Second Avenue East to Second Avenue South. Some of that has been completed.
Cloninger hopes to have good weather through Thanksgiving, but if that fails, the project will be carried over in the spring. That’s the same time when construction of the $1.3 million downtown commons — a public plaza with a splash pad and restrooms — will resume west of the new City Hall.
Public safety complex
Police officers and administration should all be settled into their respective buildings at the public safety complex by the end of the month.
Starr Corp. led the project to turn the old City Hall into a police administration building, which was essentially complete and occupied in March.
Meanwhile, the former police station has been remodeled for general police operations and evidence storage. Everyone should be moved into their new working places in a couple of weeks.
“They’re trying to do a phased move-in to get everyone set,” Derricott said.
The public safety complex, City Hall, Main Avenue reconstruction and downtown commons represent a $17.2 million effort by the city and URA to revitalize downtown.