Recently discovered leaks in the roof of the former Sears building at the corner of Third Street and Riverside Drive will delay the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office move into the building.
And that, in turn, will delay rearrangement of other consolidated Macon-Bibb County offices.
Facilities Management Director Gene Simonds told commissioners this week that roof leaks are damaging the second floor and must be fixed before the sheriff can move in.
Sheriff David Davis said the second floor is expected to house administrative offices and all investigative functions.
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“While it’s unfortunate that there are problems, that is an old building, so it’s not surprising that they’re having trouble,” he said. “I’m glad that we found the issues now and not after we moved ... and had painted and moved furniture in. The water would damage that.”
Other parts of the building, unaffected by the roof leak, will house the state probation office and Macon-Bibb record storage. All those were expected to move in around the start of 2015.
Davis said Mayor Robert Reichert told him last week about the leaks. The former Bibb County government bought the building in late 2013, planning even then to renovate it mostly for the sheriff’s use. That task was taken over by the consolidated government, becoming a key part of a major reshuffling of many city-county offices.
As a result, putting off occupation of part of the Sears building will slow down other office moves -- but it’s not yet known exactly which, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said.
Much of the moving plan is waiting on sheriff’s offices to move out of the ground floor of the Macon-Bibb County Government Center.
“It’s the next big domino,” Floore said.
But before someone else can move in to those vacated offices, planners will look them over to see which other functions would be best to go there, and then the space will be renovated to suit, he said.
So dealing with the leaks will slow somebody down, though it’s unknown exactly who. And the delay may affect the time it takes for some other decisions, Floore said. Specifically, there is talk of moving some government offices out of the Willie C. Hill Government Center Annex and the Terminal Station, freeing up those places for rental to private tenants. But those government offices will have to have someplace definite to go, he said.
A contract up for final approval Dec. 16 by Macon-Bibb commissioners would pay Technology International Inc. of Lake Mary, Florida, $81,676 for new heating, air conditioning and ventilation in the Sears building. But dealing with the roof leaks is likely to cost about $250,000 on top of that, Reichert said.
There’s no firm cost estimate yet, but one will be coming soon, said Clay Murphey, who is overseeing some of the work. He’s officially manager of projects being built with special purpose local option sales tax money, but Reichert asked him to oversee a few related efforts such as the Sears building work.
But funding isn’t as easily transferable as oversight, making it harder to find the needed money for the additional Sears roof work.
“That’s a bond project, not a SPLOST project, so we can’t intermingle funds,” Murphey said. Even so, the county bonds with which the building was bought funded several other projects, so it may be possible to shift some of that money, he said.
The leaks were spotted when the roof was being examined as the site for the new HVAC system, Murphey said. Since some work on a separate section of roof was already bid out, it may be possible to just tie onto that existing contract, he said.
Murphey expects a formal bid, with a detailed cost estimate, will be ready for commissioners soon.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.