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Rock County has offered to buy the vacant former Pick ‘n Save building at 1717 Center Ave. in Janesville.

JANESVILLE

With little discussion, the Rock County Board’s General Services Committee on Tuesday authorized buying the former Pick ‘n Save building on Janesville’s south side for $4.4 million, advancing the measure to the full county board.

Committee members also voted to retain Venture Architects for $796,000 as the project’s architectural and engineering firm. Venture Architects developed the county’s sweeping facilities master plan last year.

County officials earlier this month unveiled plans to buy the 129,000-square-foot former grocery store at 1717 Center Ave.

All human services departments in Janesville will shift to the new building by late 2020 or early 2021.

The finance committee Thursday will vote on an initial $5.2 million borrowing resolution for the purchase of the building and project design before the full county board meeting. A final borrowing resolution will be introduced later, officials said.

Committee members Robert Potter and Yuri Rashkin were absent Tuesday.

Venture Architects is charging 5.85% of the cost of construction, less than the 7% to 8% fee projected in the facilities master plan. Those percentages were estimated to cost $1.4 million to $1.6 million.

Design and development are slated for August to September, with bidding beginning in early 2020. In a memo to the county, Venture Architects representatives wrote the timeline could be “accelerated” and that bids could begin this year.

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Accelerating the schedule is “aggressive but possible,” according to the memo, and the firm will work with the county to “determine how to best fulfill that goal without compromising design and document quality.”

Consolidating human services departments in a new building is part of the county’s facilities master plan, which Venture Architects unveiled in September. About $150 million in facilities upgrades over the next eight years are detailed in the plan.

Other recommendations include building a new Huber dormitory, expanding the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and Rock County Jail, and investing nearly $15 million in improvements to the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds.

The health care center currently houses offices for the human services department’s behavioral health program; Children, Youth and Families program; and administrative staff. Other departments operate at the Rock County Job Center, Eclipse Center in Beloit and at facilities on Franklin and Court streets in Janesville.

The Rock County Medical Examiner’s Department, the county’s IT department and emergency operations also are located in the health care center. It’s unclear where those departments will be moved.

Upgrades to the vacant store—including remodeling, buying furniture, engineering and parking lot resurfacing—will cost about $17 million, officials have said. In all, the move is estimated to cost $20.5 million.

Rock County Administrator Josh Smith told The Gazette everything in the Rock County Job Center, which the county owns, will be moved to the new building, including job center partners that are not county agencies.

That means the job center will be vacated and potentially sold.

Officials also have said they could slice off a piece of the property’s vast parking lot and sell it for future development.

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