Huron Consultants Featured in The Times Herald

December 13, 2016
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Huron Consultants was featured in an article in The Times Herald for their involvement in the development of Fort Gratiot’s new Township Hall.

To view a PDF of the article, please Click Here, or read the transcription below.

“Fort Gratiot Gets Help For Hall”
 Huron Consultants hired for project

By Beth LeBlanc (Times Herald)

Fort Gratiot has made a large investment in plans for a new township hall.

The township approved a $248,000 contract with Huron Consultants at its board meeting Wednesday evening, Supervisor Jorja Baldwin said.  The contract was approved 7-0.

Township officials met with about eight firms before settling on Huron Consultants.

Baldwin said rough estimates from each of the firms were similar in price.  She said Huron Consultants’ commitment to environmental sustainability and the firm’s experience building fire halls stood out to officials.
“All eight firms brought great proposals,” Baldwin said.  “But it really boiled down to the experience.”

Daren McLaughlin, owner of Huron Consultants, said his company started in Port Huron in 1999, and has done environmental work for Fort Gratiot property or grants in the past.  “It’s a very important project, and I think it’s something they’ve been working on and off, for many years,” McLaughlin said.

The current township hall was tracked onto the existing fire hall and garage in 1950.  In the 1980s, modular offices from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital were added to the structure to create more space.
“Technically we’ve never built a municipal office since the township was incorporated in 1866,” Baldwin said.

She said office and meeting spaces at the current building are limited, and the hodgepodge layout isn’t helpful for residents visiting the location.

“This building is no longer functional to work efficiently in, and then to properly serve the people who come to see us,” Baldwin said.

The proposed development will include a new fire hall, as the current structure is too small.

“The biggest problem with the fire hall is that it’s build to its capacity,” Baldwin said.  “There is zero room for growth.”  The township board will be working with Huron Consultants during the next six months to prepare a package for potential bidders. Baldwin expects the project to be ready for bid in January 2014.

The next three to four weeks will be devoted to programming, during which Huron Consultants sit down with the township departments to determine their spatial, or organization, needs.
“They’re trying to get a good understanding of how the flow and functionality needs to work,” Baldwin said.

During the programming phase, Huron Consultants also will perform site surveys, geotechnical services and hazardous materials surveys.

From mid-July through Sept. 1, the township will develop a schematic with Huron Consultants. A schematic design includes preliminary floor layouts, facades and building plans.

Baldwin anticipates holding open houses toward the end of the schematic design phase to get feedback on the designs.

From mid-September to mid-October, the township will finalize schematic designs in the design development phase.

From mid-October to mid-November, Huron Consultants will prepare a building demolition package to outline the demolition of the current structures on the planned development property.

Huron Consultants will assemble a construction document from mid-November to mid-January to outline the vision for the planned building for bidders.

Bidding will take place from mid-January to mid-February, with construction following.

Baldwin said the township expects construction to be finished by the end of November 2014.

The township will utilize various funds to pay for the building. Officials have been setting aside money for the hall for more than 15 years, Baldwin said. The y also could pull money from capital improvement funds and savings accounts.
Baldwin said the estimated cost of the construction is $150 to $165 per square foot, not including the Huron Consultants’ contract cost.

Ford Gratiot will have a better idea of the building’s square footage after the programming phase.

Baldwin said the township will require 75 percent local labor and suppliers in its bidding document.

McLaughlin said the firm wants to incorporate the property’s topographical features into the project, including the area’s wetland.

“We focus on environmental sustainability and those are things we bring to the table. There seems to be a connection there,” he said. “The things that are important to us at the firm or our team, are important to the township.”

Contact Beth LeBlanc at (810) 989-6259 or eleblanc@gannett.com Follow her on Twitter @THBethLeBlanc.

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