A new building at 100 Catron St. is bustling.
The final scramble is underway to put finishing touches on the yearlong, $27.9 million construction of the Santa Fe County complex set to open next month. Workers in hard hats wash glass-enclosed offices, paint door frames and mop up the last of the dust. Boxes once filled with upholstered chairs litter halls and laminate tables are assembled in conference rooms.
The 62,000-square-foot facility, which will house most day-to-day functions of Santa Fe County, should make a difference for those who intersect with government. The building will hold the Planning Department, the Assessor’s Office, the Clerk’s Office and Probate Court.
The two-story complex stands at the site of the old state District Court facility and features a parking structure for 181 vehicles.
Planning Projects Manager Paul Olafson said the building, where construction began in December 2018, is a marked improvement from the county’s old headquarters at 102 Grant Ave.
“Our main focuses for this building design were energy efficiency, public service and access under one roof,” Olafson said.
Meanwhile, the present county complex at 102 Grant Ave. is being prepared for a makeover. As officials begin to transition workers and offices to Catron Street, work will begin on the existing building on Grant, which will eventually house the County Manager’s Office and the County Commission’s offices.
Until then, the offices will be located catty-corner at the Bokum Building on 142 W. Palace Ave., where Probate Court and the Finance Department have been housed.
The Nov. 12 County Commission meeting and subsequent meetings will be held in the second-floor conference room at 100 Catron St.
The $10.1 million renovation of 102 Grant Ave. is expected to be completed next spring. The two-story building was built in 1939 and designed by renowned Southwest architect John Gaw Meem in the Pueblo Revival style.
“We’re going to renovate it to reflect its old historic character, but make some fixes to make it more [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliant,” Olafson said.
Olafson said the project will open up about 7,800 square feet inside the building and restore an old placita, which is now walled in, by demolishing a 1,700 square feet addition from the 1970s.
Remaining is the famed fresco, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, painted by decorated muralist Frederico Vigil in 1996. The work depicts the 1848 peace treaty ending the Mexican-American War.
“The [board] decided that the Commissioners should stay in the historic location near the chambers with mural in the background,” county spokeswoman Carmelina Hart wrote in an email.
Though county officials say they’re looking forward the entire project’s completion, they’re particularly excited about the new building on Catron, which features a mix of old touches and new materials.
The building features portals, buttressed walls, parapets, trellises and a stucco exterior with wooden trim in blue, drawn on the Meem motifs seen at 102 Grant Ave.
For conference rooms on the bottom floor, Olafson said walls would be adorned with patterned murals in sepia tones of historical New Mexican photographs from the State Historian’s Office.
Daniel Sanchez, director of information and technology for the county, said workers are installing a 9-foot kiosk at the entrance to give directions, help guide visitors to offices, check balances and eventually pay bills at individual stations.
He pointed out the touchscreens on the walls, still wrapped in plastic.
“They’re programmed with frequently asked questions and can direct people to whatever office they need to go to,” he said.
Hart said all the offices are color coded so they’ll be easier to find.
Olafson said care was given to energy savings, water management with low-flow plumbing and lots of natural light augmented by solar-powered LEDs.
Another feature is what Olafson called a “pocket park” at the corner of Catron and Griffin — a triangle of green space for the public.
Moving day is already upon some county offices, with the county’s Info Tech Division starting Saturday so it can help set up systems for other offices. The phased migration for all offices is scheduled to be complete by Nov. 11.