New Inyo County consolidated building nears completion

Terrance Vestal
Managing Editor

The new Inyo County Consolidated Office Building, located on the north side of Bishop, is nearing completion with departments anticipated to move in at the end of April, Inyo County Public Works Director Mike Errante said this week.
Errante presented updates on the facility, which broke ground in March 2020, at meetings of the Bishop City Council and the Inyo County Board of Supervisors this week.
The building, which the county has been working on for more than 10 years, is located at 1360 N. Main St. (north of Grocery Outlet) and will bring county departments currently located in different office spaces throughout Bishop into one location.
County residents who have had to get county services in Bishop go from one spot to another and many of the offices currently housing county offices are inadequate and in need of repairs. The new building will be a much improved environment for county employees, county officials have said.
The Independence and/or Lone Pine locations of these same departments will remain in Independence and Lone Pine with their current staff. The board of supervisors has been adamant that the new building in Bishop does not result in the relocation of any staff or services from the southern end of the county.
Errante said he received an updated schedule last week that the contractor, Wolverine/Inyo LLC, is indicating that by mid March the building will be turned over to the county.
He said there are still a number of items the contractors still are working on, such as landscaping, which is scheduled to start next week.
Errante said the milestone will be the installation of the elevator that is expected to be completed by the middle of this month.
A final inspection of the building is scheduled to occur in the middle of March when the property will be turned over to the county.
“With that said, our goal is to have our county employees in by the end of April,” he said.
Errante said the county has some logistics to work out, including staging the various offices to vacate and start moving in. This will be predicated by the schedule “and doing it logically.”
He said the county has given notice to the landlords of the properties in Bishop that will be vacated by the county by the end of April.
According to the county, the two-story, 42,000 square-foot building will house in a single location the Bishop operations of approximately 16 departments currently spread across eight separate locations in the city of Bishop, including Probation, Health and Human Services, Administration, County Counsel, Information Services, Risk Management, Parks, Motor Pool, Solid Waste, Child Support Services, District Attorney, Environmental Health, Veterans Services, Sheriff, UCE Farm Advisor and the Public Administrator-Public Guardian.
HHS and Probation will be the two largest occupants of the building.
The interior of the building has been laid out in a unique fashion that pushes enclosed offices and interview rooms to the middle of the building in order to allow window access and natural lighting for group work areas.
The board of supervisors approved a build-to-suit lease agreement with Wolverine/Inyo LLC in January 2019. Per the agreement, Wolverine/Inyo LLC will develop the property to the county’s specifications and receive lease payments from Inyo County over a 20-year period. Title to the property transfers to Inyo County at the end of the 20-year lease.
Errante said the county plans on keeping the South Street Public Health building and using it for storage for furnishings that still are salvageable or files that can’t fit in the new building. He said he foresees as a short-term, temporary situation.
Bishop Mayor Stephen Muchovej noted, regarding the South Street property, that the city currently has a moratorium against using commercial buildings for just storage.
Errante said he would look into the matter and ensure the county was not violating the city’s moratorium.
City officials have expressed concern that as they move to fill vacant buildings in the downtown area, the county’s move will open up even more vacant buildings.
Errante had said that tours of the building had been set for Wednesday and that city council members and county supervisors were welcome to attend. Due to liability issues, however, members of the public were not allowed on Wednesday’s tours.
County officials have also stressed that in the long run the county will be saving taxpayer dollars by owning the property instead of having to rent office space.
The county will pay rent in varying amounts specified by the lease agreement over the 20-year lease term. These include an initial payment of $7.8 million, lump-sum payments of $250,000 in the fifth, 10th and 15th year of the lease, and monthly payments of approximately $39,000.
The monthly amount will depend on final interest rate at the time of funding but is capped. The initial and lump-sum payments will be comprised of one-time funding from a combination of CAO- Accumulated Capital Outlay, HHS, Sheriff AB443, and Criminal Justice Realignment funds. Commencement of lease payments does not begin until “substantial completion of the building.”