- $14 million project
- ~67,000 residents served
With municipal buildings in disrepair, Jefferson County had a dire need for new facilities to serve their community. Some officials voiced safety concerns about the existing buildings due to water damage and crumbling materials. The area sits southeast of Little Rock and is cut through by the Arkansas River and anchored by the city of Pine Bluff – where the majority of the county’s estimated 67,000 residents reside.
It’s notable for being home to the second oldest public university in the state: The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a historically black college (HBCU) founded in 1890. Along with college students, the county population also includes about 4,000 veterans, a significant number of whom served in the Vietnam War.
In choosing priorities for this project, county leadership identified the greatest needs as a new coroner’s office, veteran affairs building and health unit. Along with having specific issues, each of the existing facilities also all had mold, mildew and malfunctioning heating and air-conditioning units that made officials concerned for the wellbeing of visitors and staff. The county faced significant financial constraints, though.
To fund the project, Jefferson County pursued a Public-Private Partnership (P3) allowing construction to move forward without relying on their immediate payment. Instead, they entered a lease-purchase agreement with P3 Group, Inc., the nation’s largest minority-owned Public-Private Partnership developer. Jefferson County will pay P3 over the next 30 years at a low-interest rate and at the end of that period, they’ll own the buildings outright. They also received more than $1.3 million in private funding from local businesses, including Simmons Bank, the Quapaw Nation that owns the Saracen Casino, and Relyance Bank.
PROCEDEO was tasked with coordinating between the many stakeholders involved, ensuring that Jefferson County’s needs were reflected in the designs, and keeping the project within its strict budget through detailed planning.
The project involved a rapid timeline, including a one-year construction deadline for each of the three buildings – all amid the COVID pandemic. We stayed nimble to quickly adapt plans and keep the project on track.
To stay within the budget, we also sought materials that were affordable and could be used in interesting ways. Given the state of the existing facilities, the county’s main concern was the safety of the buildings – for us, that was a given.
We worked with the designers, architects and other partners to ensure that the buildings were not simply safe for the community but exceptionally welcoming. The coroner’s office needed to be a place where mourning family members were comforted from the first step they took inside. The veteran affairs building needed to be a place that honored and served veterans, as well as provided them with opportunities to relax and connect. And the health unit needed to be a place where patients could be fully cared for, which rapidly expanded to including any future pandemics.
The centrally located buildings are on track to be completed in 12 months. To keep costs down, we utilized affordable concrete blocks with a brick veneer, along with metal panels and storefront glass to add interest.
The coroner’s office features a standing seam roof with windows running along the top front of the building to increase natural light. The mechanical and electrical systems guarantee that the building can still operate during emergencies and when the power goes out. Along with a morgue with a walk-in cooler for body storage, it houses an area for administrative personnel, support services, and a waiting room for families who need to identify loved ones. This sets a new standard for county coroner’s offices across the state.
The veteran affairs building features a striking design with several complimentary styles constructed around a courtyard. The facility includes a museum, a recreation area with pool tables, office space for administration, consultation rooms and a banquet hall. The courtyard serves as a memorial with a glass pendulum hanging in the center, which will be etched with names of veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
The health services building on the existing campus of Jefferson Regional Medical Center will feature state-of-the-art exam rooms to provide wide-ranging medical services. It also includes an onsite pharmacy and laboratory. In response to the pandemic, designs were adjusted to include a drive-thru testing area with a canopy to make it convenient no matter the weather. That section of the facility includes additional rooms that are secluded, separate air conditioning and UV lights to kill any bacteria in the air.