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New state office building advances

The next step toward construction of a $20 million office building in Carson City was taken when the state Board of Examiners on Wednesday approved $372,000 for building plans and construction preparation.

The building to be built on south Stewart Street near the intersection of Little Lane will house the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources when completed in May 2005.

It will be the first state building constructed under a lease-purchase agreement. Instead of paying for the building up front with state or bond money, the state will lease-purchase the five-story office structure, paying it off in 33 years much like the average family does a home mortgage.

Gov. Kenny Guinn said the method opens a whole new way for the state to build the office and other facilities it needs. He said most of the cost of the monthly payments would be paid from the money the department now spends renting different offices around Carson City.

He said the university system is looking into lease-purchase as a method of financing new buildings as well.

Public Works Board Manager Dan O’Brien said Jacobsen Construction of Salt Lake City was the low bidder for the project. The money approved Wednesday will pay to refine plans for the building and prepare for construction. He told the board, consisting of Guinn, Secretary of State Dean Heller and Attorney General Brian Sandoval, he hopes to seek bids to build the project by January and begin construction in March.

The building will be constructed facing Stewart Street just north of the Nevada Department of Transportation and south of the Carson City Fire Department’s Station No. 1.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources should move in in July.

O’Brien plans to build two similar structures back-to-back on the property. Once the first building is completed, the second building of the pair will be built to house the Human Resources Department.

The idea of lease-purchase for state buildings was ruled legal by the Nevada Supreme Court two years ago. The idea is to hire a contractor to build structures to state specifications. The plan would be funded through a nonprofit corporation controlled by the state which would then sell certificates of participation to raise the necessary money.

The state would lease the completed building, paying what amounts to a mortgage fee each month instead of paying rent to private developers.

Guinn has said several times the plan is one way to reduce the $22 million the state pays each year on rental space, turning it instead into debt service on the buildings.