Work on the city of Hartford’s $77 million public safety complex on the north rim of downtown is “on schedule and under budget,’’ Mayor Eddie Perez says.
Clearing of the 5.3-acre site surrounding 253 High St., former headquarters to the city’s board of education, is well under way and remaining bids are being collected from firms eager to supply materials and services for the two-year project.
The good news, Perez said, is that bid prices for construction materials and services have fallen with the economy, providing the city with a better-than-expected bang for its construction dollar.
That may provide some solace to city taxpayers, who in 2000 approved spending $40 million to build what at that time was the plan for a new police station.
Later, after the city charter was changed to allow the city council to approve bonding for such capital-building projects, the panel allocated more funds to cover a much larger Hartford Public Safety complex. The increase also accounted for inflation of materials and labor costs, city officials said.
“We’re real comfortable we will come in under the $70 million we have budgeted,’’ Perez said.
To preserve the complex’s continuity with the architecture of the Clay-Arsenal neighborhood, the brick-and-masonry shell of the former Second North District School will be incorporated into a 51,500-square-foot building and a companion 102,000-square-foot structure. A 49,329-square-foot, two-level parking garage also will be built.
Gilbane Inc., of Providence, R.I., is the construction manager for the project designed by Hartford-based JCJ Architecture (formerly Jeter Jepsen & Cook). The entire complex, scheduled to open in summer 2011, will consolidate about 525 police and fire personnel there, Perez said.
Presently, police headquarters occupies outdated, cramped space next to the city’s public works department on Jennings Road, in the shadow of a now-closed landfill. The city’s fire academy also is on Jennings Road, while fire headquarters occupies the downtown firehouse at the corner of Pearl and Ann Uccello streets.
“This is a home run on a couple of fronts,’’ Perez said.
Moving police closer to the heart of the city will speed emergency response times throughout, plus extend a measure of security that may entice further commercial development of the North End-Albany Avenue corridor, the mayor said.
In addition, having all public safety operations under a single roof renders the complex suitable as a regional homeland security center, qualifying it for state and federal dollars, Perez said.
With help from U.S. Sens. Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman and U.S. Rep. John Larsen, of East Hartford, the public safety complex was designated a “shovel-ready’’ project under the federal stimulus program, the mayor said. The city has received $4.3 million in grants toward construction and outfitting the facility.
An estimated 800 workers will be involved in the complex’s construction — about half of whom will be minorities, Perez said. Overall, 28 percent of the workers on the building job will be city residents. The city also requires that 20 percent of the project involve minority- and women-owned vendors.
Fairfield space leased
Two tenants have signed for a combined 4,400 square feet at 2150 Post Road in Fairfield.Tourmalet Advisors leased 2,717 square feet and Moneco Financial Advisors is occupying 2,720 square feet.