Useful life ahead


No one is every going to argue that the Old State Office Building on High Street is one of Frankforts architectural gems.

Built during the later years of the Great Depression, it has all of the charm of buildings erected in Stalinist Russia at about the same time. The only thing really historic about it other than the highway construction deals hatched inside over the decades is the massive stone foundation, which is all that remains of the state penitentiary that formerly occupied the site.

But even if it will never be featured in a book about the great public buildings of Kentucky, with nearly 360,000 square feet, it represents a structure that still has much left to give to the taxpayers.

Thats why it is good to learn that the massive renovation work on the building is well underway and due to be completed next year as the new home for the states Cabinet for Environmental and Public Protection.

And the work is coming in well under original estimates.

Left vacant when the new Transportation Cabinet building was completed nearby, the State Office Building essentially has been gutted to the outer walls, dangerous asbestos removed and the final reconstruction of the interior will now begin.

Astonishingly enough for a state construction project, the final cost will be about $47 million instead of the original estimate of $55.6 million.

The House-approved budget that is now before the Senate contains the final $13.6 million of that overall amount.

Although renovation was delayed somewhat by recent state budget shortfalls, the fact is that state government could not have built a new building of comparable size in the same time frame with the same $47 million.

So even if she will never be the belle of the ball, the 68-year-old lady on High Street will now have many more useful years ahead of her.

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