BernCo@Alvarado Square: 1-stop government shopping - Albuquerque Journal

BernCo@Alvarado Square: 1-stop government shopping

Starting today, Bernalillo County residents are invited to come Downtown, park for free across the street at Fifth and Silver, and for the first time ever, enter one building to do business with the clerk, assessor, treasurer, probate judge, commission, Planning & Development and more at 415 Silver Ave. SW.

The architecture, greenery, outdoor seating, bike racks and public art provide a welcoming environment. Inside, we have new technology to help us better serve county residents and businesses, starting with a state-of-the-art security system at the entry and monitoring on every floor. If you have an appointment, check in at a self-service kiosk or with the Info Desk. Then take a seat or stroll about enjoying the natural light, public art and digital signage.

New technology is increasing employee efficiency and facilitating collaboration. There’s extensive video teleconferencing capability and an in-house multimedia production studio to augment public information efforts. Technology is also integrated into the building in the form of sustainable, energy efficient, and readily serviceable building systems, furnishings, fixtures and equipment.

And, that’s not all:

• Location – Centrally located and close to all public transportation options.

• Walkability – Multitude of amenities and services accessible without a car.

• Downtown revitalization – Supports neighborhood revitalization south of Central.

• Water – Alvarado Square uses approximately 45% less potable water than comparable buildings, conserving approximately 700,000 gallons of water every year.

• Energy – Natural light, an LED lighting system, EnergyStar appliances and mechanical system upgrades reduce energy use. In fact, increased efficiencies caused PNM to issue a $202,848 rebate check to Bernalillo County.

Above all, BernCo@Alvarado Square accomplishes our No. 1 goal: reducing the county’s physical, environmental and financial footprint. The operational budget crisis of 2013-17 laid the groundwork for consolidation by making it clear the county needed fewer buildings to maintain. The question was whether it was best to build, buy or renovate. The answer turned out to be all three.

Forty-three-year-old Alvarado Square was purchased for only $2.7 million. It was renovated from top to bottom and a new 12,000-square-foot commission chamber facility was designed and constructed adjacent to the main entrance. A state-of-the-art security system was added along with new water and sewer lines, IT system upgrades, a new data center, electrical upgrades, a new generator, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and HVAC system upgrades expected to last 30 years.

The total cost was $68 million. The design, construction and furnishings portion amounts to $177 per square foot. To put that in context, the average design and construction cost for renovating an older building is $310 per square foot. And a new office building would have been in the range of $440 per square foot not including land or furnishing. Moreover, by renovating Alvarado Square, Bernalillo County helped to preserve an iconic Downtown building.

This was an all-hands-on-deck project. I’d like to thank staff and the Bernalillo County Commission. This massive endeavor would have been challenging under any circumstances, and the pandemic required everyone to be more resourceful with how we serve and protect. And there were additional responsibilities including disbursement of millions in direct aid and organization of mass vaccination clinics. Finally, I’d like to thank our design-build team of HB Construction and Dekker/Perich/Sabatini for a job well done. We look forward to serving you at BernCo@Alvarado Square. Come on in!

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