Aspen and Pitkin County buildings beginning to take shape
Preliminary work on two municipal buildings being constructed on Main Street is complete or nearly complete as the spring and summer construction season looms, officials said Friday.
Crews have begun pouring the foundation for the Aspen Police Department’s new building at 540 E. Main St. as well as one of the pillars and the concrete walls for the underground parking garage, said Jack Wheeler, capital asset director for the city of Aspen.
“I think it’s going really well,” Wheeler said. “It’s always a challenge coming out of the ground, but we’re on schedule and the hard part of the winter is done.”
The Police Department, which has been talking about ditching the cramped basement of the Pitkin County Courthouse since 2005, is scheduled to move into the new 18,515-square-foot building in early summer, Wheeler said. The building is budgeted at $22.5 million, while a separate 8,290-square-foot affordable-housing complex on the site will cost $7.3 million.
Next door at 530 E. Main St., contractors for Pitkin County are working on gutting the old 17,000-square-foot county building and relocating utilities for the 24,000-square-foot addition set to be constructed on to the back of the old building, said Rich Englehart, the county’s chief operations officer.
Crews have finished removing asbestos from the old Courthouse Plaza building and are done gutting the second and third floors of the building, he said. They are now working on the first floor and the basement, Englehart said.
Contractors also recently finished building a new sally port for the jail behind the courthouse. Jail deputies can no longer use the previous egress between the Obermeyer complex and the Pitkin County Jail, which necessitated the new electronic gate and screened-in area, Englehart said.
Crews have not begun excavating the underground parking garage for the county building addition yet, though Englehart said he expected permits for that work to be issued by the city early this month.
Englehart also presented samples of carpet, tiles and wall material to Pitkin County commissioners March 21, and said discussions have begun about furniture.
“We’re pressing along,” he said. “There’s a lot of work going on. It’s a complex project.”
The county building project is budgeted at $24.6 million, which includes the 8,000-square-foot parking garage. It also will include a redesign of Veteran’s Park, located between the county building and the courthouse, that is expected to add another $200,000 to $300,000 to the project, officials have said.
It is expected to be completed around June 2018.
Because the two buildings are being constructed next to each other, city and county officials meet frequently, as do contractors working on the projects, Wheeler and Englehart said. The two buildings will not be connected, though there will be connection points the police and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office can use to access each other’s headquarters, they said.
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There is a lot of pent up energy among hikers and bikers to get into the high country, but snow fields, avalanche debris and high stream crossings are presenting challenges later than usual. Forest rangers with the Aspen-Sopris District provide trail condition reports that are updated each week so hikers and backpackers aren’t caught unaware.