Over the next 10 months, Statesboro City Hall and the space called Joe R. Brannen Hall in a neighboring building will undergo significant renovations if City Council awards a construction company a contract for the project in October.
Among other things, the renovations will turn the end of Joe Brannen Hall that faces East Vine Street into a city-owned health clinic for the city government’s employees and create reception areas on the second and third floors of City Hall for controlled access to the offices.
Just two contractors, both local companies, submitted sealed bids that city staff members opened Monday afternoon. The city had $1.25 million available for this work from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax authorized in 2013 and 2019 referendums, said city Central Services Director Darren Prather.
“We had two submittals. …,” Prather said. “They look like they’re going to fall within the budget, give or take. They were designed with a base bid and some possible additions.”
Eleven contractors had attended a mandatory pre-bid conference Aug. 23.
“There have been times in the past when we had this type of project we would have seven or eight people submitting bids,” Prather said. “But there’s apparently a lot of work out there and, you know, I was hoping for three or four but two is good and they seem to be fairly priced in this job market.”
The mayor and council are not expected to award the contract during Tuesday’s meeting, but will probably do so during the Oct. 4 meeting, he said. Staff members were set to begin evaluating the bids Wednesday for City Manager Charles Penny to be able to make a recommendation.
Brannen Hall redo
The front portion of Joe Brannen Hall, 58-A East Main St., has served for years now as a meeting space for city committees and community development agencies. Under the plan drawn for the city by architect Frank D’Arcangelo of the local firm DPR Architecture, that part of the building will become the city Human Resources Department headquarters.
So, one small department that has responsibilities to all of the city government’s 300 employees is anticipating a move from the second floor of City Hall into ground-level offices next door.
“Given the reality that our employees are at the center of every decision that we make concerning human resources, I believe that relocating us to Joe Brannen Hall provides an awesome opportunity because we’ll have additional space to serve our employees as well as individuals from the community who are visiting human resources to apply for career opportunities,” said city Human Resources Director Demetrius Bynes.
Of course, Statesboro City Hall is the historic Jaeckel Hotel building at 50 East Main St. But access to the second floor can pose a challenge for some people, Bynes notes. His department currently shares the administration suite with the city manager, city attorney and public information officer and the executive assistant to the manager.
The department at this point consists of Bynes and two human resources generalists. He anticipates adding an administrative assistant with the move to Joe Brannen Hall.
Meanwhile, the other end of Brannen Hall, facing the city’s parking lot on Vine Street, will get a new entrance and be remodeled to serve as the employee health clinic, with a lobby, reception area, office, exam rooms, a small lab and restrooms.
After the city in March contracted Everside Health to serve as the new provider for its employee clinic services, the company recently relaunched the clinic inside the previous location, space leased by the city in a doctors’ building on Brampton Avenue, near East Georgia Regional Medical Center. Everside has a family nurse practitioner assigned there for city employees’ health evaluations and primary care.
The city’s lease on the Brampton Avenue clinic space extends to June 30, with the lease costing the city $42,000 a year.
The bidding documents required that the winning contractor must finish the Brannen Hall renovations, including the health clinic, by May 1 but will have until Aug. 1 to complete the City Hall portion.
“So they have to put all of their resources into that first, base bid,” Prather said, “because we have to have that done to get the health clinic and the personnel moved in by June 30 so we don’t have to redo a lease for another year.”
With the Brannen Hall project as the base bid, the City Hall renovations were actually given as an additive alternate, he said. After seeing the bids, he believes both buildings can be renovated with roughly the budgeted funding.
Two other alternates – a brick façade for the employee clinic end of Brannen Hall facing Vine Street and an enclosure for waste bins – could be included at the discretion of the elected officials, but would also add to the costs.
“But I think that we’ll come within an acceptable budget for the two buildings,” Prather said.
City Hall changes
All three floors of City Hall will get some interior renovations. The ground floor will undergo the fewest substantial changes. In the back where the city clerk’s office is now, some walls will be moved or installed to create a couple of new offices.
On the second floor, a “foyer” with a reception area to control access to the administrative offices will be added at the stairway landing and elevator, with seating for people waiting there. Some little-used side rooms along the corridor will be converted to offices. No changes are planned for inside the City Council chambers, but Prather said there may be security improvements at the entrance.
The third floor, home of the city planning, finance and engineering offices, will get a similar reception area for “controlled access” and “a more formal, secure atmosphere,” on both those floors, Prather said.
“It will also make for a better traffic flow for visitors,” said Public Information Officer Layne Phillips. “They won’t have to wander around and ask where something is. It will be easier for people to visit us and find what they’re looking for.”
Updated restroom fixtures and minor building repairs are also included in the plans. A pre-bid description stated that the City Hall work will include “relocating and patching walls, adding doors for security, replacing plumbing fixtures, miscellaneous painting, flooring and ceiling tile replacement.”
The Joe Brannen Hall work also includes minor roof repair and reworking the sprinkler system.
If council accepts a bid Oct. 4, the contractor could receive a notice to proceed the next day, Prather said.