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Saturday October 20, 2018

construction mgr. hired for courthouse renovation

Monday, June 11, 2018 16:43 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Determined to avoid mistakes of past major projects, a construction manager has been hired to watch over renovation and expansion of the historic Michigan City courthouse.

Tonn and Blank Construction will oversee the estimated $21 million project.

The decision to hire a construction manager was made by the LaPorte County Commissioners, who chose the Michigan City-based company over three other construction firms.

''They will make sure it's done exactly the way it's supposed to be done and exactly the price it was agreed upon,'' said Rich Mrozinski, president of the three-member county commission.

Mrozinski said county government under previous administrations acted as construction manager during renovations of the LaPorte County Complex and the historic courthouse in LaPorte next to it.

Among the flaws of the work at the courthouse in 2007 was a white blotching of the exterior caused by a solution used to restore the color drawing out the natural salt contained within the red sandstone.

The discoloration has not been corrected despite repeated attempts by the county.

The $23 million dollar county complex renovation completed in 2004 was plagued by cutbacks in areas like materials and cost overruns.

Tonn and Blank will take care of anything unexpected that might come up during the project and other things like making sure what architects draw up will actually function properly before construction.

''This takes the county out of the management part of it. You need somebody who knows all of the ropes. That's what they do,'' Mrozinski said.

This is the latest move toward starting construction likely in spring of 2019.

American Structure Point with offices in cities like Chicago and Highland was hired as the project architect in April.

Umbaugh & Associates from Indianapolis was hired that same month to secure a bond issue for financing the work.

Improvements to the existing 1909 structure include replacement of the electrical system considered a fire hazard and making the inside cramped in many areas more handicapped accessible.

The addition will double the size of the courthouse.

County offices presently in an old strip mall on nearby 8th St. will occupy the new space, officials said.

Construction is expected to take 18 months to complete.
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