The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has accepted the bid of Venture Properties Inc. in Lawrence for a 15-year lease of a 20,000-square-foot building the company will construct on a vacant lot at 19th and Delaware.
The new building will become the Lawrence Area SRS office, replacing the office now being used at 649 E. Eighth.
The lease, accepted by the Kansas Department of Administration and a state procurement negotiating committee, calls for the state to rent the building for $8.11 a square foot per month. James Wann, area office director and a member of the negotiating committee, said the bid was the lowest of 18 proposals received.
Duane Schwada, president of Venture Properties, was unavailable for comment about the lease contract. Schwada also owns the building currently occupied by SRS.
WANN SAID the new building will be one story tall. He said that although a multistory building would have been considered, SRS preferred one story for easier access by persons with disablities.
The building is expected to be ready for occupancy by October.
Wann said the 75 SRS workers in Lawrence currently are crowded in the 11,000 square-foot office on East Eighth Street. Wann, who became area director in October, occupies a small conference room with two other administrators.
By October, SRS will employee 80 people in its Lawrence office.
The area office now covers seven northwest Kansas counties, including Douglas County. Lawrence became home to an area office in October. Previously the Lawrence SRS office covered only Douglas County and was under the Topeka area office.
Wann said most important bid criteria was cost, or getting "the best building for the least cost."
OTHER CRITERIA included location.
Wann said the state wanted easy access for SRS clients. It also wanted a location near the state highway system because of the number of SRS workers who will be traveling from other counties to Lawrence. Wann said those traveling to Lawrence from other counties will be able to use Kansas Highway 10 and U.S. Highway 59 for quick access to the new building.
Parking availability for clients and staff also was considered in the bid-awarding process, Wann said.
Wann said in this case, the state chose the lowest bidder. However, SRS was not bound to accept the low bid if it had not met the department's needs.
Wann said the land, which is owned by Venture Properties, is cleared for constuction. He said he expected contruction to begin in about a week.