News Ticker

Prison Projects Could Top $175M in New Builds/Expansions

By Eric Jay Toll for The Arizona Builder’s Exchange

A $50M design and construction budget is set for a 500-bed maximum security addition to the Lewis Prison south of Buckeye.  At the same time, a private operator will likely develop another 2,000 minimum and/or medium security prison beds within the next 2-3 years.  Between the two, a total of $175M+ could be directed into prison construction in the state.

Plans for 500 beds added to Lewis Prison Complex on SR 85 southwest of Buckeye

The Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) calls for architects to be part of a team with the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) and a later-selected construction manager at risk (CMAR). The state expects team members “…will not be concerned with protecting their own individual interests.” The team will focus, says the agency, on getting the job done on time and within budget.

First identified as an upcoming project by AZBEX last December, the 500 bed maximum security prison will be built at Lewis Prison, 26700 S. S.R. 85. Modeled on the Arrington Watkins Architects “Browning prototype” design—the maximum security unit at Arizona State Prison Complex Eyman, Florence—the ADOC intends the architect and engineer team will build in agency-desired improvements. ADOA Construction Services is directing the project for ADOC.

Seeking proposals for design and construction administration including preliminary budget estimates, the ADOA RFQ wants competitive statements of qualifications for architectural/engineering services. The CMAR solicitation is expected to be released next week, according to ADOA officials, and the contractor will be selected concurrently with the architect and engineer team.

Existing infrastructure – both security and facility – is to be used for the new buildings. Any required enhancements need to be identified and incorporated into the project scope of work. The winning team will design and expand the prison’s wastewater treatment facility and develop an additional percolation pond.

Private Prisons Still in Play

Prison expansion came up in 2010, when ADOC sought private prison bids to build upwards of 5,000 minimum and medium security prison beds. That RFP was sidetracked after the Kingman prison break resulted in several murders by the escapees. The proposal was eventually released as a request for 2,000 beds late 2011.  These proposals are come in the form of public-private partnership, requesting the proposing firms design, build, operate, maintain, and finance the entire project.  The firms submit on a cost/inmate/day basis.

Following public review, ADOC announced it narrowed the proposals from five to four selected locations: Eloy, Winslow, Yuma and Coolidge. Goodyear was prepared to take legal action to block any expansion from being built at the Perryville prison.

In late December 2011, AZBEX reported that ADOC cancelled the RFP entirely. The agency told AZBEX it planned to ask the legislature to authorize a 500 bed maximum security prison. The expansion at Lewis is the result of that request.

A request for private prison operators to develop 2,000 total minimum/medium security beds was issued again in February 2012, due in March. Five firms submitted proposals:

  1. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)
  2. The Geo Group
  3. Management and Training Corporation (MTC)
  4. Emerald Correctional Management
  5. La Salle Corrections

Public hearings are scheduled for the next two weeks for the private prison operators, albeit without the intense media coverage that accompanied last year’s submissions.  Once the public hearings are complete, the state expects to make a decision by August 31.

Private & Public Prison Construction Could Lead to $175M+ in Projects

Between the private and public prison projects noted above, the total construction volume could top $175M.  Specific details on how many beds would be developed at each site will likely not be available until either after the public hearings, or the final selection has been announced.  AZBEX will continue to cover developments as available.


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