February 27, 2018

View of the new Health Headquarters from the Broadway Bridge.
Construction teams have completed 50 percent of the new nine-story Gladys McCoy Health Department Headquarters in Old Town Chinatown, including the steel superstructure and most of the fireproofing.

The building is on track to open in 2019 and hit minority hiring goals, managers told the Board of County Commissioners on Feb. 27.

At a regular quarterly update, the County's owner's representative on the project, Steve Cruzen, of Shiels, Obletz  Johnsen, said all the concrete floors and roof have been poured and in place. Metal stud work is underway on multiple floors, and rough-in work for mechanical and electrical functions are underway. Crews built a mockup of the exterior walls and conducted three water tests to assure the building, designed by ZGF, is a waterproof building.

The County is building a $94.1 million headquarters on Sixth Avenue at the west end of the Broadway Bridge, across from Union Station. JE Dunn Construction is the general contractor construction manager. The budget includes construction costs, furniture, building fixtures, medical equipment, energy programs, two percent for art and an $8 million contingency. Nearly 500 employees will be moving from the current headquarters, 426 SW Stark in early 2019.

Funding for the building includes $36.4 million from Prosper Portland, $13.4 million in County General Fund and a bond sale in November, 2017 of $44.3 million. The revenues do not yet include the eventual sale of the McCoy Building but that revenue will be used to offset the bonds.

Cruzen and Brett Taute, County project manager, noted:

  • The County is close to achieving its goal of awarding at least 20 percent of the total contract dollars to minority, women, service disabled veteran and emerging small businesses. As of December, 18 percent of the dollars have been awarded to those small businesses to perform foundation, structural, interior and exterior work.
  • The project current exceeds male and female apprenticeship participation targets.
  • The Facilities team has been regularly participating in hiring fairs and will hold another with JE Dunn on March 23.
  • The project team recouped $572,000 in transportation system development charges after the County challenged the amount. The city of Portland collects fees on any new building that will generate an increase in traffic and trips. The fees are used to cover the impact on roads and  sidewalks.

The County was originally charged more than $700,000 in fees. But, Cruzen said, “because the HDHQ has had such a strong history of limited use of private vehicles, we were in situation we were not generating levels of traffic the development fees are based on.’’ The team hired a traffic consultant to do a study and survey of workers and visitors to the current McCoy Building and put together report on actual usage. Based on that, the city of Portland refunded $572,000.

Wendy Lear, co-director of the Health Department said, the traffic consultants told the board the consultants “lurked in our stairwell and asked you every time how you got there and where you were going. It was creepy at first, but worth it,’’ she said with a laugh.

Health Department Headquarters from Union Station.

Cruzen said the building is currently about five weeks behind schedule, but was confident that the contractor could make up that schedule. “We are slated to complete in first quarter of 2019.”

Commissioner Lori Stegmann said she was thrilled at the number of women and minority owned businesses who were taking part in the project.  “I am really excited to see women at the journey level,’’ she said. “Your target was six and you are at 12.’’

She and Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson also lauded the County’s College-to-Career program that will bring a college student in to work with Taute in Facilities this summer on the administrative side of a major capital project.

“This is a great opportunity and it is work that when you’re in college, you just don’t think about.” Vega Pederson said.

Chair Deborah Kafoury said she was thrilled to see photos of the construction project posted at the old McCoy building.

“I loved seeing the big pictures to entice employees to stay calm and realize, ‘we’re going to work there,' because this building is desperately needed,’’ she said.