|New LCUB building nearly complete
Jeremy Nash news-herald.net
The Lenoir City Utilities Board administrative building on Creekwood Boulevard is nearly complete, and officials will soon tackle a somewhat complicated move.
Furniture will be delivered the middle of August, Barry Brooke, executive vice president with LawlerWood LLC, said.
“We’ve had good momentum on the project,” Brooke said. “We didn’t get all the glass until the end of May, and that’s been the biggest challenge we’ve had is the glass. Not having that — we were supposed to have it in March. It’s a domino effect with the contractor and the team who tried to accelerate the project as much as possible.
“We’ll be ready for
furniture, and they could move in soon after the furniture’s
installed whenever LCUB wants,” he added.
LCUB General Manager Shannon Littleton said a temporary certificate of occupancy may be requested mid-August so that officials can begin moving equipment. Real occupancy could be in late September, although Littleton said no decision has been made.
“It has to sit a period of time before we can occupy the building,” Littleton said. “There’s probably some things we didn’t take into account early on. The building’s going to be relatively on budget or under budget and relatively on time. We’ve got some peripheral items such as the furniture and some of the technology items that we decided to change along the way. They’re going to push the time out just slightly.”
The project’s budget was $42 million, Littleton said.
The exterior of the building is complete, Brooke said, noting the interior still requires finishing touches.
“We’re working to pave all the parking areas,” Brooke said. “We’re installing carpet inside, the heating and air works, the power’s on. I mean it’s not nearly complete. The thing to note ... when a change is made late in the job and is significant — when you’ve got work completed, it does slow the process down. The general manager, he’s aware of all these things and has directed us to implement these things. He wants it done right and so do we.”
One item added late in construction was a communications room to allow vendors access to the building, Littleton said.
That change was made June 29, Brooke said.
“Implementing that change and some additional work and some other minor things in the building — after seeing the building almost completed they wanted to make some changes,” Brooke said. “So it’s less expensive to do it now than do it later.”
Transition to the new facility will be a slow process, Littleton said, noting both locations will run for a period of time.
“One thing, for example, dispatch obviously we’ve got to be running continuously 24 hours seven days a week,” he said. “How do you take it down in one place and automatically be up in the other place in moving equipment, moving people without duplicating expensive equipment and all those things? We’ve got a plan to do it, but what will occur is it will essentially be one of the last things to move and we’ll have to do it very quickly.”
Hopes are for the process to be seamless so that it does not impact customers, Littleton said.
“Just the timing of it’s going to be difficult to do,” he said. “The other thing is that we have multiple servers that run LCUB’s brains of the facility. Those we can’t take down and just move them. We’ll have to transition into a way where we’re running simultaneously, make sure that it’s running properly and then we’re able to take the old server out. There’s a plan and I think it’s a good decision.”
LCUB’s information technology department developed a plan to prevent an additional $500,000 in costs for servers to offload information and continue business during the move, Littleton said.
“The good thing is we’re going to be able offer some things over the internet, some other capabilities to make it easier for the ratepayer to do business with us,” he said, such as “sign up for service, make payments online, view how they use their services so they could use some conservation efforts to save money on their utility bill. There’s a host of things that we’re going to be able to provide for our customers that we cannot do at the other facility. This new facility’s going to greatly enhance the customer experience.”