Lewis & Clark County leaders have approved a proposed price for the renovation of a downtown building that will house the Helena Police Department and Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
Sletten Construction, the general contractor on the project, set a guaranteed maximum price of $427,625 for its work on the building at 406 Fuller Avenue, now known as the Law and Justice Center. With the addition of other costs, like design and permitting fees, the total price of the remodel will come to about $500,000.
The Lewis & Clark County Commission accepted the proposal at their meeting Thursday morning.
The largest changes at the Law & Justice Center will be making the building more accessible to people with disabilities, bringing its fire alarm system into compliance with city codes, and creating a secure storage area where the law enforcement agencies can keep evidence.
Commissioners said the price is higher than they originally expected. The cost of the evidence storage area alone will be more than $105,000.
Roger Baltz, the county’s chief administrative officer, said, for now, leaders have scaled back their plans for the Law and Justice Center to include only the changes they need to make before the police and sheriff’s offices can move in.
“This is where the police and sheriff administration are going to occupy space, and we have to prepare that space,” said Commissioner Andy Hunthausen. “We’re doing it in a no-frills way, with the tightest budget possible from my perspective.”
HPD and LCSO have to move out of their current location at the Law Enforcement Center before work can start to turn all of that building into an expanded detention center. County voters approved a bond and levy to pay for expanding the jail.
Baltz said the plans for renovating the Law and Justice Center will be submitted to Helena city planners in the coming days. Once the city gives a notice to proceed with the work, it’s expected to be up to 2 ½ months before the renovation is completed.
Commissioners say the money for renovating the Fuller Avenue building was appropriated through the regular county budget process, and did not come from the jail bond or levy.
- Reported by Jonathon Ambarian