$145 Million Orleans Parish Project Under Way

NEW ORLEANS — Orleans Parish broke ground in September on the second phase of its new Correctional Complex Plan. This project replaces buildings damaged by Hurricane Katrina and includes inmate housing, an intake processing center, and an administrative building.

The $145 million, 433,409-square-foot project is slated for completion in early 2014 and will house inmates currently held in makeshift facilities, intended as temporary fixes after Katrina. The building also consolidates administrative facilities now spread throughout the parish.

Before Katrina, the site held an intake center and two facilities totaling 1,438 beds that were demolished in 2007.

“It wasn’t as integrated as this is,” said Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman. “And we didn’t have an administrative building there. We decided to move our administration building there so it would be more centrally located.” The administration building needed replacement anyway, having suffered hurricane damage.

“Right now, we are in temporary structures and some structures that we really are just trying to do our best to get out of as quickly as we can with the construction,” said Gusman.

The project helps consolidate the sheriff’s facilities. He had three separate buildings, and this helps put all of his facilities in one location so that he has efficiencies from that standpoint. “It affects manpower and quality of work — those things that you can’t place a dollar value on,” said Gusman.

The housing component of the project features a four-story, concrete-framed building with intermediate mezzanines that will house 1,438 inmates. The building includes 20 double-occupancy housing units with 30 cells per unit. The facility will house different custody levels, so some will be celled, and some will be open dorms.

All cells are precast concrete that will be fabricated and finished off-site before being transported and assembled with the structure.

“That will help with the speed of construction. If we had done normal or form-and-pour-type construction, it would have taken considerably longer,” said Gusman.

The Intake Processing Center replaces the temporary processing center in use since June 2008. It will contain processing and booking areas, secure holding facilities, medical screening, inmate release, property rooms, and two courtrooms. The building also features a secure and enclosed vehicle sally port on the first floor to allow for safer transfers of arrested individuals arriving for processing.

The administration building is a three-story office building, providing space to consolidate the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, functions currently spread out at other locations. The building’s plan accommodates specialized training and educational programs and replaces the computer facility located within the Community Corrections Center.

The vast majority of the funding for the complex is coming from FEMA reimbursements. A small amount will come from law enforcement district tax revenues, said Gusman.

The contractor for the Inmate Housing, Intake Processing Center, and Administrative Building is a joint venture between Metairie, La.-based The McDonnel Group LLC and Archer Western Ltd. The architectural and engineering team includes Grace & Hebert Architects, Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects, Billes Architecture, Julian Engineering, Houseman Associates, Shrank and Peterson, Food Facilities Planning & Design, Lerch Bates, and Bufford Goff & Associates. The project management team is Ozone Construction Co. dba OMK, which includes Ozone Construction Co., Montgomery Watson Harza, and Kwame Building Group Inc.

Sorely needed
Orleans Parish had 7,500 beds before Katrina and now counts about 3,200, says Gusman. Current beds include temporary structures that will be vacated when construction on the new facility is complete.
Gusman uses a FEMA-constructed building as an example. “They completed it in December of 2006, and it was supposed to be temporary, but we’re still in it,” he says. “It’s not even really a building. It’s eight tents. Those tents will be demolished and removed toward the end of construction of the building we are talking about.”

Correctional Complex Plan
The project is the second in the parish’s new Correctional Complex Plan. A $79 million, 165,885-square-foot kitchen/warehouse facility is currently under construction and slated for completion in late 2012.
“That building contains the central power plant, which will be providing all of the cooled and heated water to the facility, all the electrical to the facility, said Gusman. “So they will be generating efficiencies through that means as opposed to having an individual plant within each of those facilities. In this way, we have one point of all backup generations. In times of emergency, if power is disrupted to the facility itself, he (the sheriff) will be able to generate his own power in order to at least keep the air moderated and be able to power the doors and power the lights and things of that nature — the main necessities of the facility.”

A third building phase is on the horizon.
“We do envision having at least one more: Phase 3, where we would include mental health facilities, a medical unit, and an observation unit, as well as a re-enter/low-custody-level facility,” said Gusman. “We are in discussions. We certainly would like to get it under way within the next year.”