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Wed, Jan. 29

Johnson offers to pay county's<BR>share for road<BR>

Miner Photo/LINDA STELP

From left, Alan Torvie, Keith Earnest and Robert Carli Jr.

of OPUS West Corp.

show a rendering of the $20 million Mohave County administration building to be built downtown.

The Phoenix-based OPUS West Corp.

beat out several other design/build teams vying for the $20 million project, which will take about 18 months to design and build.

During the past several months, a local committee consisting of county officials, financial and legal advisors and a local contractor narrowed the field down from nine to three firms.

After one firm withdrew its bid, OPUS West was chosen.

The OPUS West Development Team will issue tax-exempt, 15-year bonds to pay for the project.

The bonds will be repaid through the county's monthly lease payment, which will come from the county's quarter-cent sales tax fund.

After 15 years the county will own the building.

The 130,000-square-foot building will be built south of the new Mohave County Sheriff's OFFICE on West Beale Street with access from Beale Street and Route 66.

The building will include a supervisors' meeting room with seats for 275 people and offices for Mohave County Health and Human Services.

"We are confident this project as developed can be delivered on budget, on schedule and is something Mohave County can be proud of for a long time," Mohave County Manager Ron Walker said.

Walker reiterated that after an extensive interviewing process the most qualified team was chosent.

OPUS Vice President Keith Earnest said the company has been in business for 50 years, including 25 years in Arizona, and has designed and built 15 million square feet of industrial and retail offices, including buildings for the Arizona Department of Administration and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

"We have been listening to what the county wants," he said.

A design/build team is the best method for the project because the team designs, builds, manages and does all the financing in house.

The team also takes on the risks of the project, Earnest said.

"The architecture is interesting.

It provides a little bit of variety," Bob Carli Jr., the company's director of architecture, said of the building.

Carli said the facility will be built with locally available materials, construction waste will be recycled, water will be reclaimed from cooling towers for landscaping, and low-flow plumbing fixtures will be used.

When the building is completed, he added, the project will be evaluated on how well environmental measures were implemented.

OPUS senior director of construction Alan Torvie said use of recycled materials and certified wood and other environmental measures will earn credits that go toward "green building" certification, which puts the project in line for financial reimbursements.

The building terraces up from the first story, which will house health and human services, to a two-story glass, barrel-shaped atrium lobby, reception area and guard desk, to a three-story component housing county offices.

There will be two entrances: one for health and human services and one for county administration offices.

The building will have 520 parking spaces.Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson has vowed to personally raise $15,000 to pave a road he says will encourage economic development within the county.

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to apply for an Economic Strength Program grant to pave Haul Road.

However, the board stipulated that the county would not incur the 10 percent, or $15,000, matching funds required.

"It shows the direction the county manager, the other two supervisors have taken: not to do anything about economic development," Johnson, the District 3 supervisor, said after the meeting.

Johnson submitted the paving request at the Feb.

17 meeting and resubmitted it Monday.

He said an unnamed company that does more than $2 billion in annual sales wants to locate in Mohave County and has asked that Haul Road, located in the Interstate 40 Industrial Corridor, be paved.

Johnson claims Haul Road is already a county-maintained road and should be completed.

The county has spent more than $227,000 on the road, which has been used by Griffith Energy since it built a power plant a few years ago.

The Economic Strength Program grant requires a 10 percent match, with the estimated cost to pave Haul Road $150,000, according to Johnson.

The I-40 Industrial Corridor is a state Department of Commerce Enterprise Zone, which entitles com-

companies to tax credits for job-creation and property-tax breaks.

In a letter to the county, Johnson had stated that a company wants to build a facility costing approximately $16 million, with inventory and equipment worth another $26 million, but needs to have the road built.

He also said the new business will increase the tax base and employ many people who need jobs.

At Monday's meeting, however, Mohave County Manager Ron Walker said there is no public record identifying who is involved in the project and no guarantee that the company in question would actually locate in the county once the county developed the road.

District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers said there are other things to consider in addition to the $15,000, including infrastructure such as a water system needed by a relocating business.

Walker also questioned the number of jobs that the business referred to by Johnson would provide and whether those jobs would pay enough to support employees without incurring social costs such as through Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

He also said that other companies are footing their own bill for roads.

Byers said Johnson has been acting on his own, and that he, District 2 Supervisor Tom Sockwell and Walker were "out of the loop" and had not been advised of negotiations with the company wanting to locate to Haul Road.

Sockwell added that Johnson was advised a year and a half ago that the county manager would be the point of contact for all companies wishing to locate to the county.

Johnson replied that Mohave County is the "hottest county right now" and should be moving forward with economic development.

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