The county received the go-ahead Thursday to advertise for requests for proposals and qualifications for the $18.5 million Douglas County Community and Senior Center at Herbig Park.
Following approval from county commissioners, Community Services Director Scott Morgan said the advertisement would be released Monday.
He told the board at least a half dozen firms capable of handling the design-build concept of the 75,000-square-foot project had expressed interest.
Under the design build concept, a single contract is awarded for all design and construction activities.
"The design build team emphasizes a maximum, guaranteed price," Morgan said. "Coming in $1 over budget is not acceptable."
Morgan said a finalist would be selected from the top three applications. The runners-up are to receive a $30,000 honorarium to offset an estimated $40,000-$50,000 cost to prepare the requests, a standard industry practice for design build projects.
"The honorarium helps us ensure a quality project," Morgan said.
Commissioner Greg Lynn, who has a lengthy background in construction, questioned the $30,000 figure as being short of the actual cost.
Todd Lankenau of Collaborative Design Studio confirmed that cost to prepare the massive document would be closer to $100,000.
The county hired the Reno firm to develop criteria and conceptual design documents as a basis for the requirements for design-build services.
Conceptual drawings were presented Thursday by Lankenau.
"I'm really proud of this building. It will complement our heritage on the interior and exterior," Morgan said. "In order to win this contest, you're going to have to give us a building that does not look like Kmart. Whoever gives the most of what we want wins."
Tentative plans call for construction to begin July 1, 2013, with occupancy Feb. 1, 2015.
Site work and road improvements are planned for later this year, Morgan said, with a groundbreaking scheduled for the last week in October.
"It's a conservative schedule," Morgan said. "All the dates get a little mushy if FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) holds us up."
The county is currently under contract for plans and specifications to grade the site, prepare FEMA mitigation, and develop a certified pad for construction on the 19-acre site near the skate park on Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville.
Morgan said the project has a local labor clause which is defined as including "the state of Nevada."
He said the county has established a system that gives 100 bonus points as an incentive for the successful bidder to use Douglas County labor.
"What we hear from the local laborers is, 'If you would just give us a chance,'" Morgan said. "Douglas County will have done everything within legal limits to encourage local labor and to keep every local dime in Douglas County."
He said the senior center is "an untouchable piece of the project that gets built up first."
It includes enhanced facilities for the community health nurse and a senior day care section with its own entrance.
Senior advocate Paul Lockwood, a member of the senior advisory council, said the request for proposals was "super professional."
"I was a longtime engineering manager at Lockheed," Lockwood said. "This RFP is excellent and covered all the bases. I recommend you put it out for advertisement."
Resident Bonnie Nance asked for a show of hands identifying seniors in the audience. Nearly every person in the room raised a hand.
"We're all looking forward to the building," she said.
Questioned by Lynn as to where the responsibility rested for the project, Morgan said he was leading an excellent team.
County Manager Steve Mokrohisky said from an administrative standpoint, "the buck stops with me."
"We will continue to manage this aggressively, on budget, and relatively on time," Mokrohisky said.
Morgan said he was investing "a lot of my time and a lot of my soul."
"I want to underscore the magnitude of this project. It's a lotta, lotta money."