Larimer County to open Loveland Campus on Sept. 25

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Customers entering the new county building in Loveland will get a much different experience from the library-converted, overcrowded facility in downtown.

Larimer County will move four offices from two locations in downtown and open a satellite sheriff’s office at 200 Peridot Ave. at the northwest corner of First Street and Denver Avenue. The move-in will begin Sept. 20, with the first day of business for all offices and departments on Sept. 25.

The Larimer County Loveland Campus Building will include the Economic and Workforce Development Department from 418 E. Fourth St. and the Department of Human Services, the Department of Health and Environment, and the Clerk and Recorder’s office (which houses the Vehicle Licensing Department) from the county building on 205 E. Sixth St. The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office also will provide its staff with another space to work in addition to the main location in Fort Collins and present a larger presence in Loveland and southern Larimer County.

“It’s great that Larimer County is investing in people in southern Larimer County,” said Ken Cooper, director of facilities for Larimer County. “We’re excited to be able to better serve the citizens there and in the future. … It’s a much nicer place to visit to do business with the county.”

The county building was built as a library in the 1960s and converted into office space for the county’s use in the 1980s. In the late 2000s, the county began the planning process for expansion options and decided to build new due to the cost of expanding the existing building.

At first the county wanted to be included in the city of Loveland’s downtown redevelopment project, formerly known as the South Catalyst and consisting of commercial and residential development spanning three blocks. The county decided to not be part of the project and to build a standalone project instead.

“We’re excited that project is moving forward while ours is moving forward,” Cooper said.

The county building cost $18.3 million and was constructed without debt with money coming, in part, from funds saved from a voter-approved tax to replace the building and nearly $2 million in grants from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

“Finally, citizens and taxpayers in southern Larimer County will have equivalent levels of service as people in the rest of the county. They should, because we all pay the same mill levy,” said County Commissioner Tom Donnelly. “I’m really happy and pleased that the building is being built and paid for with cash. It didn’t require any new taxes or bond debt to build it. It’s really consistent with the values of the people of southern Larimer County as well.”

Construction on the building began July 2017. It spans 46,000-square-feet, is two stories with space for 20 to 25 percent growth, and has a 229-space parking lot, unlike in downtown where customers had to park on the street or in a lot a block away.

“There’s bus routes from the north and west not directly linked but pretty closely linked to the property,” Cooper said. “Having customer parking on our site is great.”

The building’s main floor will provide office space for the satellite sheriff’s office, the Clerk and Recorder, and Economic and Workforce Development, which recently changed its name from the Larimer County Workforce Center. On the second floor will be Human Services and Health and Environment. There also will be larger waiting areas for the various services.

“It’s primarily for space needs for those services to better support the southern part of the county,” Cooper said.

The Sixth Street building had limited waiting areas and space for staff to be able to provide customer service, as well as limited space for the staff.

“It’s uncomfortable for customers,” Cooper said. “It was not built for that environment.”

The new building is more efficient with better flow between the various departments and offices and better lighting.

“It’s a so much nicer environment, and we’re excited about that,” he added. “It offers a much better experience for customers coming into the building.”

The building has other features, such as an outdoor plaza on the southwest corner. There will be a landscaped area serving as an interpretation of the Big Thompson and Poudre rivers and eight tree wells representing the county’s municipalities and their incorporation dates. There also will be two large sculptures created by Loveland artist and sculptor Jane DeDecker. One is of “Mariano and His Princess Namaqua,” of Mariano Medina, one of the first settlers in the Thompson Valley, and his oldest daughter, Marcellina. The second is “My Heart is in Your Hands,” of two people forming a heart shape.

“It’s a great tie-in to our history. It points to the history of the sculpture community in Loveland as well. It’s really quite a touching memorial,” Donnelly said. “The theme of the building is really to explore and acknowledge those that came before us and the area’s history.”

Inside the building there will be an art wall at the stairwell, representing the county’s history with historic images from places like the Big Thompson and Poudre canyons and the sugar-beet and agricultural industries, as well as a video display of each image. The building also has a lobby and two conference rooms near the main entrance.

“It’s a very nice open plan, a very professional environment,” Cooper said.

The grand opening for the building will be at 10 a.m. on Sept. 11.

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