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Commission OKs building purchase, prison project

People come and go from the Wisconsin Department of Administration office building located near the state Capitol on the shores of Lake Monona on Thursday, July 18, 2013, in Madison, Wis. Real estate developer Terrence Wall last month wrote to Gov. Scott Walker expressing interest in buying that building and other state properties, as the newly enacted state budget allows. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

(AP Photo/Scott Bauer)

The state Building Commission on Wednesday approved both a building purchase and a project at a men’s prison in Racine.

The commission approved the purchase of the Tommy G. Thompson Building at 201 W. Washington Ave. in Madison, for $29.5 million, as well as closing costs.

The state Department of Administration already rents most of the space in the building, which is owned and operated by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. That space includes offices for state agencies such as the Departments of Tourism and Veteran’s Affairs.

The lease includes an option allowing the state to purchase the building. Buying it will save the state about $85 million over time, according to the DOA.

The Commission also approved a construction and design report that was drawn up for a $7.9 million health-services building that’s to be put up at the Racine Correctional Institution, a medium-security men’s prison.

The building would replace the prison’s current health-services unit, establishing a separate building with exam rooms, treatment rooms and other medical spaces to help the prison attend to the medical needs of its 1,600 inmates, 30 percent of whom are chronically ill.

Bids for the project are scheduled to be opened in October, and the related construction work is expected to start in January 2019.

Also on Wednesday, the building commission approved about $11 million worth of repairs and HVAC replacement projects, as well as $663,000 for a design report for the second phase of ongoing renovation and expansion work at Boebel Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

The UW-Platteville project would bring the building’s mechanical, electrical, telecommunications and fire-detection systems up to date and add lab space and classrooms.

One of the HVAC projects approved by the commission involves the Tommy G. Thompson Youth Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis

The plans call for replacing five air-handling units that have become undependable.

Bids on the project are scheduled to be opened in April and the work is expected to be completed in time for the Wisconsin State Fair.

Projects go before the Building Commission when their designs are about 35 percent complete. Approval by the commission authorizes state official to complete the designs and put the projects out to bid.

The Building Commission is composed of Gov. Scott Walker, lawmakers from both major political parties and a citizen member appointed by the governor.

About Erika Strebel

Erika Strebel is the law beat reporter for The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 414-225-1825.

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