Board chooses Rochester firm

Who: Mower County Board.

What: On Tuesday selected the Rochester construction-management firm Knutson Construction for the downtown justice center project.

Why: Board members want a construction manager to work with architects on design, cost savings and bidding of the work.

How Much: Mower County will pay about $1.23 million to the firm for help with the projected $30 million project.

By Tim Ruzek


A Rochester construction firm will help Mower County with its estimated $30 million justice center in downtown Austin.

On Tuesday, the Mower County Board voted 3-2 to hire Knutson Construction for $1,232,438 and begin work immediately with the project. The amount is under the $1.4 million budgeted by the county for a construction manager.

Board members Dick Lang and Richard Cummings voted against it, supporting the firm Mortenson Co. of Minneapolis.

Knutson now will start work on its own schematic-design cost estimates for the justice-center project for the board to compare to similar figures given earlier this month by KKE Architects of Minneapolis, County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said. That alternate estimate should be completed in two to three weeks.

The construction manager also will be involved in working with KKE on the development-design phase and bidding of the project’s work, eyeing ways to save costs along the way, county officials have said.

Knutson’s bid numbers were finalized while Mortenson’s costs could have fluctuated up or down depending on the final estimated from the design-development process, Oscarson said. Mortenson’s base fee was $23,500 higher than Knutson, he said.

The bids were based on an estimated $23.5 million worth of work for the construction manager under the current project’s proposal, Oscarson said. That figure stems from the architects’ $32 million schematic-design cost estimate.


Ray Tucker and Dave Tollefson, board members who make up the county’s building committee, recommended Knutson. Tucker said both are quality firms but liked that Knutson’s main office is closer in Rochester.

Knutson worked on the Mayo Clinic’s Gonda Building, which was the largest building project ever undertaken in the clinic’s history. For detention centers, Knutson built the Black Hawk County Jail in Waterloo, Iowa, as well as the state of Minnesota’s prison in Rush City.

David Hillier, a board member who voted for Knutson, earlier in the meeting spoke highly of the Mortenson firm’s experience in building justice centers and working with the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Mortenson is working on the new Minnesota Twins baseball stadium and the University of Minnesota football stadium in Minneapolis. It also did the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Dick Lang, a board member, referred to both firms as "terrific and expensive."

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