Proposals are due Aug. 28 from any of them interested in the at-risk contract, which means there would be a guaranteed maximum price for the county.
The project — capped at $5.4 million — includes building a new training center for the Floyd County Sheriff's Office and renovating an internal pod as a medical clinic for inmates with physical or mental disorders.
Contractor David Goodhead, who's working with the architectural and engineering firm Peacock Partnership, said they'll be paying close attention to qualifications. Security is a top priority.
"Show me you understand about contraband, tool inventories and controls during construction," he told the group during a walk-through of the site.
FCSO Maj. Bob Sapp, the jail commander, said the job requires more than expertise in healthcare facilities. The building at 2526 New Calhoun Highway is old, he noted, with a mix of parts dating to the original construction in 1982 and a major expansion in 1996.
"And every year is equal to three, because we run it around the clock," he said.
The walls will remain in place but most of the pod — its cellblocks, offices, clinic, storage and locker rooms — will be demolished and rebuilt.
The project will proceed in phases. First is a new training center, which will take up the grassy expanse and part of the public parking lot to the right of the entrance into the complex. The existing training rooms will be incorporated into the medical space.
Goodhead said the county would accept bids for that phase alone, to allow smaller firms to compete. He also noted that it would be a plus to include the use of local subcontractors in the proposal documents.
The next step is to gut the section that will ultimately become the mental health wing, and refit it to be used as a secure temporary clinic while construction is ongoing. After the medical section is done and the clinic moved to its permanent spot, crews will complete what's being called the "special needs" unit.
"They're trying to get psychiatric patients out of the inmate population," Goodhead told the contractors. "There used to be a mental hospital but now some of them are housed here."
The project is funded by two special purpose, local option sales taxes. The 2013 SPLOST contains $1.9 million to expand the existing clinic, which has only four secure cells and one for inmates with contagious diseases. Another $5.2 million was included in the 2017 SPLOST package. Collections won't start until the current one expires on March 31, 2019.
Peacock revised the plans after the November vote to design a new integrated facility instead of piecemeal additions.
Goodhead told the potential bidders that the hardest part of the job will be the security aspect, as there will be strict protocols to observe.
"It's not a difficult job, it's just getting people and things in and out," he said.