Physical Work at future BHUCC site could begin this month

‘Minimal amount’ of asbestos abatement must take place before demolition of existing structure
KCJJ Staff

Physical work should begin later this month at the future site of a behavioral health center planned for Iowa City’s south side.

Behavioral Health and Urgent Care Center director Matt Miller told the Johnson County Board of Supervisors last week a “minimal amount” of asbestos was found in the building currently on the property. He says abatement officials will look at that on Monday and once that issue is taken care of, they will be able to move forward with razing the building.

That, Miller said, should take place later this month. The county plans to hire Cole Services to handle that demolition. Cole had submitted the lowest of three bids for the project, with a cost estimate of $20,300.

The county, with support from several municipal governments, plans to erect the center on Southgate Avenue and Waterfront Drive to handle area residents who have multiple contacts with police. The aim is to take care of their mental health and substance abuse problems rather than sending them to jail or the hospital, which can be costly.

Per Miller’s update, the facility will include 70 beds and will also have a permanent location for the low-barrier shelter, which has been moving from place-to-place over the last several years. He says the actual floor plans are close to being done, saying they’re “getting down to the nitty gritty” details.

Assuming demolition goes as planned and construction can begin this spring or summer, it could open in 2020.

Miller says the most recent cost estimate for the entire project is $8.75 million. He says they’ve already secured commitments of more than $8.4 million. He adds they continue to seek other funding partners.

And while the county bought the entire roughly 5.8-acre lot, only about 40% is planned to be used for the BHUCC. County officials say they may sell the north half of the lot for future development.