NORMAN — It only took seven-and-a-half years to get the feds to turn over the Joe A. Smalley Army Reserve Center to the city as promised. Now, it’s taking something over $1.4 million to renovate the facility.
It will be worth the effort, city officials said.
On Tuesday, the Norman City Council approved an $80,000 change order to the contract with Downey Contracting LLC. That brings the remodel sum up to $1,406,466 — a 6 percent increase that will allow for power upgrades, additional hardware and new locks, ductwork revisions, fire line work beyond the plans and a west entry slab over the ditch there.
City Revitalization Manager Linda Price has been along for the ride through the process of red tape to acquire the center, which will be an investigations center for Norman police and fire departments.
“I think when we’re finished, this building is going to last for a long time,” Price said.
The deal was in the works for years, but delays held the deed transfer up until September 2012. The Smalley Center, now the City of Norman Investigations Center, was acquired through the Base Realignment and Closure process from the federal government, according to city staff reports.
A story in the Nov. 26, 2006, Transcript documents the early stages of the process. The 34,000-square-foot building is situated on four acres at the northwest corner of Lindsey Street and Wylie Road; when it was declared surplus, several entities wanted it, including Norman Public Schools.
In addition to NPS, Middle Earth Child Development Center and the Norman police and fire departments were interested.
The decision on who was to get the Smalley Center might have been the easy part. As the process moved forward, delays and red tape kept the building vacant for more than two years.
“There was no heat and air for over two and half years,” Price said. “There was a lot of deterioration. There were some changes we knew we needed to make to make the building better.”