ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – Allen County Commissioners Friday made a move to hire Weigand Construction as the construction manager of the new Allen County Jail.

Weigand will oversee construction of the jail, estimated to cost between $300 and $350 million, a power plant and construction laborers, commissioner president Therese Brown said after the meeting.

Hagerman Construction also bid on the project.

Brown said the vote was a “motion to proceed” and negotiations continue on the cost of the contract. Construction should start after January 2024.

The jail’s design, submitted to the Board of Zoning Appeals Feb. 16, is a facsimile of what will be constructed, Brown said. Jail design includes a mental health component but not a separate building. Commissioners have hinted that they would welcome a mental health facility, but will have to work with the state in order to make that happen.

Commissioners’ Chief of Staff Chris Cloud issued a statement regarding the contract that enables the county to go forward with its jail plans:

“Today’s decision by the Commissioners was a vote to accept the recommendation of the RFP Review Committee and offer (and) notify Weigand Construction of the Commissioners intent to award them the contract to the Construction Manager as Contractor (CMC) work on this project. Next step is to finalize a contract with them. They submitted a fee proposal in their RFP, but that hasn’t been evaluated or negotiated. The structure of the fee, however, will be a flat fee for work during the pre-construction phase of the project and then a percentage of the construction costs to get a total contract amount. The county will begin negotiating with Weigand promptly and hopes to have a finalized contract, including fee, in the next few weeks.”

The jail will be located at 2911 Meyer Road. Often cited as the single-largest public construction project undertaken by the county, the design calls for a one-and-a-half story building with cells for at least 1,100 inmates.

The new jail is the result of a federal lawsuit filed by the Indiana ACLU and inmates in January 2020, which called attention to inhumane conditions and attributing those conditions to overcrowding and understaffing.

The commissioners are set to sit in front of federal judge Damon R. Leichty in June to give an update to the jail process.