The construction of a new federal office building at 2021 Fourth Ave. N. for about 400 Department of Interior employees is going smoothly and is ahead of schedule.
“The project is more than 80 percent complete and it has not encountered any problems,” Sally Mayberry, public affairs officer for the General Services Administration in Denver, said Friday.
The $30 million project was planned for completion this summer, but now GSA expects the 111,000 square-foot building will be occupied in late spring, Mayberry said.
The sandstone-colored brick building is across the street from and a little east of the Billings Food Bank, at 2112 Fourth Ave. N.
The installation of windows in the five-story structure recently was completed. Workers are installing the building’s canopy at the entrance. The bulk of the remaining work, Mayberry said, is to complete the interior ceilings, paint, hang doors and do electrical work.
Site work that includes fencing and landscaping also remains to be completed, Mayberry said. Landscaping plans call for two dozen plants, including trees of honey locust, Canada red cherry, lindens crimson pygmy barberry; Peking cotoneasters and fragrant sumac shrubs; and Foerster reed grass. A pedestrian crosswalk will be installed in March.
So far, more than 40 design, engineering and contractor firms have worked on the project. Between 60 and 70 workers are on-site daily, she said.
The Boyer Co. of Salt Lake City is constructing the building and will lease it back to GSA for at least 20 years. GSA selected Boyer’s proposal in October 2011, saying the company had the lowest bid and scored highest on its technical rating. Construction began in January 2012.
Boyer hired Langlas & Associates of Billings as its chief local contractor. Two other companies, Collaborative Design Architects and Sanderson Stewart, an engineering firm, also are working on the project.
Included in the new office building project is a separate warehouse and storage yard located at the southern end of South 27th Street.
The building will be the new home for federal employees now working in the old James F. Battin federal courthouse a few blocks away at 316 N. 26th St.
A 20-year history of asbestos problems in the old courthouse eventually led to the construction of the new office building and a new $80 million federal courthouse at 2601 Second Ave. N. Completed last fall, the new courthouse houses federal courts and court officials, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Attorney, U.S. Probation and Parole and the GSA.
The new office building will house workers from the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Office of the Field Solicitor, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians.
GSA doesn’t have naming rights to the building because it is leasing it, Mayberry said, but her understanding is that Boyer will have a sign reading “the Department of Interior Building.”
When the Interior employees leave the old courthouse, the 225,000 square-foot courthouse built 48 years ago will be empty. No local or state organization wanted the building, so GSA last fall listed the property for sale through an online auction sometime this spring.
The federal government’s footprint in the downtown area is considerable. In addition to the new courthouse and office buildings, the William J. Jameson Federal Building, at North 29th Street and Fourth Avenue North, houses offices including the IRS, Social Security Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bureau of Land Management’s Montana/Dakota State Office is located at 5001 Southgate Drive, which is near the South Billings Boulevard interchange.