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Chief Joseph project suffers site issues

Buildings+D%2C+E+and+F+are+ready+for+move-in.+Building+A+has+no+set+construction+schedule.
Buildings D, E and F are ready for move-in. Building A has no set construction schedule.

Buildings D, E and F are ready for move-in. Building A has no set construction schedule.

Buildings D, E and F are ready for move-in. Building A has no set construction schedule.

KAIA JOHNSON | Evergreen reporter

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After setbacks due to unforeseen site conditions, construction of the Chief Joseph apartment complex buildings B and C will soon come to an end. The new buildings are set to reopen for use on July 20.

The soil on the property had to be excavated, as well as on-site utilities left unmarked in the designs. Michael Undseth, regional manager of National Native American Construction, Inc. (NNAC), said the construction team discovered an unmarked gas line, communication line and water line.

Project manager Cynthia Arbour said these discoveries and setbacks are included within the budget, accounting for about 1 percent of the total project cost, which is about $12.3 million.

“There are always unexpected issues while working on a renovation,” Arbour said, “because we are working through what was there before.”

WSU hired NNAC to complete the construction. The company is based in Northern Idaho, but serves customers nationwide. Undseth said the company has been working on WSU projects for years, first collaborating through a design, bid and build process.

NNAC is a certified SBA 8(a) Native American, women-owned construction firm. SBA 8(a) certification is a federal program focused on allowing small business entrepreneurs to gain the opportunity for government contracting.

Bob Tattershall, director of WSU housing, said the budget for the project comes from WSU Housing and Dining reserve funds. Tattershall said the Board of Regents approved the renovations a few years ago.

Because two buildings are involved in the project, the budget is split down the middle to accommodate both, Arbour said.

The plan for renovations has changed over time due to undisclosed reasons.

“We were originally doing one building at a time,” Arbour said, “but for various reasons it made sense to do B and C together.”

Buildings D, E, and F of the Chief Joseph apartments have already completed renovations and are open for use. Currently there is no set schedule to begin renovations on Building A.

Tattershall said the newly renovated apartments will focus on bringing residents together.

“The most notable design of the Chief Joe renovation is the community center area,” Tattershall said.

The two buildings are mirror images of each other. Tattershall said new fire pits, a deck area, and laundry rooms for each of the buildings will help create a sense of community for the residents of the Chief Joseph apartments.

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to reflect that about 1 percent, not 10 percent, of the budget for the project has been spent on unforeseen issues. 

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Chief Joseph project suffers site issues