New Senate building will expand access to state lawmakers

Gaithersburg firm wins $20.7 million contract for legislative annex

April 22, 1999|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,SUN STAFF

The Board of Public Works approved yesterday a $20.7 million contract to build a new state Senate office building, which state officials said will feature larger hearing rooms and public meeting areas than are now available.

The new, four-story building will be built behind the 60-year-old William S. James Senate Office Building in Annapolis. A covered pedestrian walkway will connect the two structures, state officials said.

The board awarded the contract to Coakley Williams Construction of Gaithersburg, which has agreed to use minority-owned business enterprises for 20 percent of the work, or $4.2 million of the total contract amount. State law requires a minimum of 14 percent minority participation on state contracts, but contractors are encouraged to do more.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the building is badly needed to accommodate people who want to participate in the legislative process by attending bill hearings. "Every committee meeting is standing room only, with dozens waiting in adjacent corridors struggling to hear the proceedings," he said. "We need this expansion to provide better access for the citizens of Maryland."

Senate Minority Leader Martin G. Madden, a Howard County Republican, agreed the building is needed. "The new building is not being built for Senate offices, it's being built for the public," he said. "Anyone who has ever testified in the Senate's Finance Committee can tell you there are never enough seats, and the accessibility for handicapped individuals is deplorable."

Dave Humphrey, a spokesman for the state's Department of General Services, said the old armory building at Bladen and Carroll streets will be razed to make way for the office building.

The armory building houses the State Administrative Board of Election Laws and the state records division, which are being relocated to rented office space in Annapolis. The elections board is moving to 151 West St. and the records division to 1700 Margaret Ave.

Humphrey said construction of the 108,418-square-foot building -- which includes a three-level, 140-space underground parking garage -- is expected to start in June and be completed by November 2000. "Once the building is completed, the existing Senate building will be renovated," he said.

State officials said senators' offices will be temporarily relocated to the new building's fourth floor while the renovation project is under way. Senators will move back to the original building once the renovation work is done, they said.

William R. Gluck, DGS's chief of project management and design, said the cost of renovating the building is estimated at $7.4 million. It is expected to begin in May 2001, he said.

Gluck said the four Senate committee hearing rooms in the new building will be 2,500 square feet each, compared with the 1,400- to 1,500-square-foot hearing rooms in the existing office building.

Humphrey said the new building's design "will be compatible with the existing Senate office building." The new building will have offices for Senate committee heads, he said.

In other business yesterday, the board approved contracts to privatize the campus bookstore at the University of Maryland, College Park and to lease land to a developer for a privatized student housing complex near the campus.

Pub Date: 4/22/99

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