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Federal building renovation continues

Sep. 15, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- With more than half of the internal renovations completed and the old facade stripped away, an overhaul of the Huntington Federal Building on the corner of 8th Street and 5th Avenue has gone relatively smoothly and is on schedule, officials say.

The $47.6 million project, which has altered traffic lanes on adjoining streets and displaced some of the more than 500 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees who work in the building, is on target to be completed sometime during the summer of 2015, says Gina Gilliam, regional public affairs manager for the U.S. General Services Administration.

The GSA owns the building and leases it to the Corps of Engineers to use as its Huntington District headquarters. The district encompasses 45,000 square miles in parts of five states, including West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina.

The traffic changes and temporary relocation of employees to the Pullman Plaza Hotel office complex and Sidney L. Christie Federal Building on 5th Avenue have allowed GSA to make undisclosed security upgrades and sustainable building renovations that improve efficiency and promote a healthier environment for Corps employees, Gilliam said.

The project includes the installation of a new, high-performance HVAC system, the replacement of all windows, a new facade and the installation of rooftop solar panels to generate renewable electricity. The energy system upgrades will help preserve the building for generations and save taxpayer dollars through increased energy efficiency, Gilliam said.

Construction on the seven-story building started at the top in January 2011 and has worked its way down. The top four floors are now complete and employees have moved back in. The third floor will be completed this fall, Gilliam said. She did not respond to requests to tour the building.

Funding for the project comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ($27.5 million) for the energy efficiency upgrades and the Corps of Engineers ($20.1 million) for the security improvements. The cost of the project has increased from a previous estimate last year that put the overall price tag at $42.6 million. Gilliam said that estimate did not include additional construction costs or purchasing and installing new furniture and associated wiring for approximately 500 employees. The furniture component of the multi-phase project will cost $3.4 million, or about $6,800 per employee.

Corps of Engineers spokesman Brian Maka said other than minor inconveniences, Corps employees have responded positively to the renovation work. The Huntington District's mission has evolved during the past several decades, leaving the work space in some divisions cramped or forced to split up, Maka said. The renovations will modernize office space and give employees adequate room to operate, he said.

"The atmosphere of the office itself is changing," Maka said. "The lighting is much better and the new HVAC system is doing a much better job of keeping the work environment comfortable.

"You get a sense that people are more proud of the building they work in."

Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter @BryanChambersHD.



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