Elodie Reed, St. Albans Messenger
ST. ALBANS CITY — The roof is on, the windows are installed, the walls are painted, technology is installed, the floors are carpeted or otherwise finished and furniture is slowly arriving.
The new Vermont State Offices building on Federal Street is nearly complete, and it will welcome its soon-to-be inhabitants at the end of the month.
ReArch Company, of South Burlington, with the help of 20 subcontractors, has been working on the four-story, 45,100-square-foot building’s construction for almost a year. The company recently finished the five-level St. Albans City Parking Garage next door, which is attached to the new office building by an enclosed, second-story skywalk.
Traffic signals on Federal and Lake streets, as well as on Catherine Street, should be installed in the new year.
An air of giddy excitement (and smells of still-drying paint) filled the building Thursday afternoon as various community partnership group members and state workers took tours. After entering through either the front or back entrances, visitors were welcomed by pastel colors, lots of window light and open, interconnected spaces.
“A big part of the design in this building was to have lots of light,” said Agency of Human Services St. Albans Field Director Kristin Prior. Workers from the Department of Health, Department of Mental Health, Department of Corrections, Department of Aging and Independent Living, Department for Children and Families, Department of Vermont Health Access and the Department of Labor will all be moving to the new building.
Prior added that the set-up of offices along the walls and open cubicle spaces, conference rooms or other areas towards the center of the building helped facilitate collaboration between departments.
“It’s easier to connect in this building the way it’s set up than the old building,” she said. She added that department managers would be spread out on the various floors, not clumped together. “It’s easier access,” she said.
The new office building will allow not only internal, but external connections, said Prior.
“We’re centrally located [in the city],” said Prior. From the fourth floor windows, one can look out on the brick and stone features of the New England Central Railroad headquarters, the Peoples Trust building, and the roofs of other city buildings and businesses. On a clear day, one could potentially catch a glimpse of the St. Albans Bay.
Being closer to community partners, other human service organizations, and of course, the clients, is a big advantage for AHS moving to the center of St. Albans City, Prior said.
ReArch owns the building but is leasing it to the State of Vermont, which received the keys on Dec. 1. As finishing touches are being completed on the new offices, 170 employees are getting ready to move from the old Houghton Street location.
St. Albans officials are expecting that the proximity of those workers to downtown will have a positive economic effect.
According to Prior, she and several state employees will move on Dec. 27, while the rest of the St. Albans district of AHS will move Jan. 2, 3 and 4. With 20 movers helping pack up everything, Prior said things will be chaotic and services will be run by skeleton crews for that period.
“We’re really encouraging people not to come in unless it’s an emergency,” she said. Prior added that Dec. 26, Jan. 2 and Jan. 5 will be the worst days to seek out services, though they will still be available.
“We’ll be open,” she said.