To replace 12-story McBrien Building
By Daniel Borsuk
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors reacted swiftly to increasing interest among county workers to work in downtown Martinez by approving a $75 million budget and a $58,238,551 Design-Build Contract with Webcor Construction to raze the 60-year-old former 12-story administration building at 651 Pine Street and to erect a three-story office building and plaza that calls for the demolition of the old county jail. (See presentation)
Supervisors approved the contract on a 5-0 vote during their regular meeting on Tuesday. (See complete agenda)
The new, four-story County Administration Building on Escobar Street and Pine Street was completed last year, to replace the old, 12-story McBrien Building across the street that is slated to be demolished for the new three-story, 65,000 square foot office building. The new building will offer about 40,000 square feet of office space and 80 covered parking spaces on the ground floor and will be built. Both buildings were designed by the same firm, KMD Architects.
Over the muted protests of building preservationists like Sherill Grover of the Contra Costa Historical Preservation Coalition, Supervisors had already decided the costs were too far great and out of reach to rehabilitate and bring the present jail up to code. The jail was constructed in 1901.
When District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen asked why the jail cannot be preserved like old churches are preserved, Chief Assistant County Administrator Eric Angstadt answered by saying “it is cost prohibitive.” It would cost $1.2 million to $1.5 million to “fully remediate” the former jail, he said.
“A jail is a little bit different than preserving a church,” Angstadt added. He said the City of Martinez is not interested in preserving the old jail.
“This is really exciting!” exclaimed District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff. She proposed that the new administration building exhibit somewhere photographs of all the supervisors in the county’s 171-year history and that a new time capsule be installed in the new building. The county was founded in 1850.
Angstadt said the Vermont granite used to construct the old jail could be cut and reused for the proposed plaza across the street from the 651 Pine St. office building. Plans are on the drawing boards to permanently close Pine Street to vehicular traffic, but that proposal requires City of Martinez approval. County officials expect the City of Martinez to close Pine Street.
“We have had strong interest for downtown office space,” said Angstadt. Among some of the potential tenants moving into the new 65,000 square foot three-story building are the County law library, sheriff, and probation.
Demolition of the old 651 Pine St. building will begin in November and should be completed by September,2022 said Angstadt. The new office building should be completed by April 2024.
Contra Costa County’s Deputy Health Officer Ori Tzvielli issued an optimistic picture on the COVID-19 scene in the county saying, “Our case numbers are coming down.”
According to the Contra Costa Public Health Department, the county’s COVID-19 case load is down 36.8 percent with 2,910 cases. The department also reported 186 persons are hospitalized with COVID-19. The hospitalization rate is down 11.2 percent.
On the vaccination front, the county is showing progress. The county’s vaccination rate is 84.4 percent in comparison to 73.1 percent nationally.
“The best thing you can do is to get vaccinated,” said Tzvielli. He expects five- to 11-year-olds to soon get the vaccine.
Set October 6 as Clean Air Day
To encourage Contra Costans to use public transit, supervisors passed a resolution setting October 6 as Clean Air Day. Last year more than 1.5 million persons rode free transit in the Bay Area.
Recognize Tom Aswad
Supervisors also recognized the retirement of Tom Aswad and his 22 years of service as founder of Discovery House, a 41-bed men’s residential treatment program.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.