MANSFIELD — Actual construction work to renovate “L2” inside the Richland County administration building is expected to begin before the end of the year.

County commissioners on Tuesday voted to accept the $1.56 million bid of Studer-Obringer Inc. of New Washington to serve as the general contractor on a project that will create relocation space for the county Clerk of Courts on a floor that once housed the county jail.

The work will be done using a share of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The company submitted the lowest of three bids for the project when the offerings were unsealed on Oct. 5.

The Maurer Architectural Design Studio of Mansfield had estimated the project at $2.25 million. All three bids opened by commissioners were below that estimate.

“Obviously, that’s our goal, to push this forward as fast as possible,” Brad Maurer said. “I can see that (construction start) by the end of the year.”

‘They’re a reputable company’

The architect said he and his team reviewed all three bids, including Adena Corp. of Mansfield ($1,765,000) and 2K General Co. from Delaware ($1,758,000).

Maurer recommended Studer-Obringer to commissioners. The company was founded in 1967 by Clarence Studer and Bob Obringer and has been in business for 56 years, now in a second generation of owners.

Commissioner Tony Vero asked if the recommendation was based on the company offering the lowest price or if other things were also considered.

“It was first a matter of they were the lowest bidder. We called a few references and found nothing to change our minds.

“They’re a reputable company and we’ve worked with them in the past,” Maurer said.

‘It’s a great indoor winter project’

Commissioner Darrell Banks said officials with Studer-Obringer are also anxious to get started.

“(The company) said that one of the reasons (they) could bid this was to get side work for these crews in the winter,” Banks said.

Maurer said, “It’s a great indoor winter project and he’s very excited about that. So I think he’d want to get it going as fast as possible and probably get it bundled up as fast as possible.”

According to the contract, the company would have 210 days from commencement of the work to have the project substantially completed.

Once contracts are signed, staging will begin around the administration building, which could impact parking for some county employees.

The project is not expected to impact public access to the building, commissioners said.

Project is more than two years in the making

Work to remove the old jail cells and prepare the space for the project began more than two years ago.

Commissioners have said the project meets two needs.

It provides more space for the Clerk of Courts office. It will also allow for the creation of a fourth courtroom, a request made by Common Pleas Court Judges Brent Robinson and Phil Naumoff.

The new courtroom in the former clerks’ office space would be used by both judges and their three magistrates and would also provide extra space for the county prosecutor to conduct grand jury sessions.

Once the work is done, county administrator Andrew Keller has said it will take about two weeks to relocate the Clerk of Courts office into the new space.

“Once they vacate the space in the clerk’s office, the court will have the green light to get started ASAP with the fourth courtroom build out,” he said.

“That will be a much simpler project than the ‘L2’ project. We can say that with certainty,” Keller said.

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