Time to replace GA Building

Renovate or replace? That’s the question that continues to swirl around the aging General Administration Building on the Capitol Campus.

The latest consultant’s report on options for the 55-year-old building – the third such review in the past 20 years – adds support to the school of thought that the building would be too costly to refurbish.

The latest price tag for an overhaul of the boxy structure to bring it up to building code is about $124.56 million, up from $90 million the last time consultants assessed the GA building, in 2006.

By comparison, it would cost roughly $161 million to demolish and replace the 284,000 square-foot office building.

The latest report is just more evidence that the GA building is long past its useful life. Just to keep it functioning, the state Department of Enterprise Services is asking for $750,000 next year. It’s a classic case of throwing good money after bad.

The Capitol Campus Design Advisory Committee needs to digest the new report by SRG Partnership, then take a strong position in favor of demolition and replacement of the GA building.

The political stars are starting to line up for just such a move, at least among the South Sound legislative delegation. Rep. Gary Alexander, R-Thurston County, last week joined state Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, and Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, in calling for a replacement building. Also in the let’s-move-forward camp is retiring Secretary of State Sam Reed, who has been a longtime proponent of the Heritage Building project on that site to house the State Library, State Archives and state executive offices.

While the state economy is a little too shaky to support this major Capital Campus improvement in the near-term, it’s not too early for state elected officials to start speaking with one voice on the project.