Efficiency is hallmark of new county building

Mesa County residents who expect opulence in the new County Central Services Building may be disappointed.

The former City Market warehouse is reasonably well outfitted with lots of wood trim, tile floors and plenty of windows and skylights. But no one would call it luxurious.

The exterior, which architects had originally hoped could mimic the brick exterior of the nearby county jail and justice center, instead replicates the metal-sided exterior of Two Rivers Convention Center. The city-owned convention center sits just on the other side of First Street from the new county building. There wasn’t enough money for a brick exterior, officials said.

But those looking for an example of efficient utilization of space and resources may be pleasantly surprised with the Central Services Building, which county personnel began moving into this week.

Start with the fact that the building is a former grocery-store warehouse — not something built from the ground up — and that the county’s Community Food Bank and Supplemental Foods programs will be housed there. A large amount of that old warehouse space is being used with very little remodeling and minimal upgrading.

Then there is the lobby, with a number of customer-service counters arrayed in a broad semicircle. The counters are placed in such a manner that the public has easy access to all of them, and so that employees from different departments can be cross-trained to serve at different counters.

For instance, employees with the Planning Department may be cross-trained to assist customers at the Building Inspections Department desk.

A large area for the county clerk’s motor vehicle office, which has been at Mesa Mall, is to the right of the main lobby.

Behind the customer-service counters are a multitude of cubicles, offices and miniature conference rooms constructed in such a manner that they can easily be reconfigured, and office space added to or reduced as staffing needs for the various departments change.

Additionally, the open office area allows for more efficient, more uniform heating and cooling of the building because the airflow is better. That, combined with the abundant, energy-efficient windows and skylights that reduce the need for artificial light, is expected to help make the building a relatively meager energy user.

The Central Services Building cost a little over $7 million, including the $1.8 million purchase price for the building. With the money the county will save on leases — $260,000 a year — plus the anticipated sale of the county-owned building at 750 Main Street, Mesa County expects to recoup its costs in about 11 years.

That’s a good deal for taxpayers.

Kudos to all the contractors, architects and county employees involved in turning the old warehouse into an efficient, functioning county building.


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