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County hires firm to design new jail

By Alyssa Dalley-Schofield
Midwest City Beacon

Oklahoma County Commissioners know who will design a new jail and health facility. And soon they’ll know where it will be built.

The commissioners recently agreed to hire architecture firm HOK to design the new $260 million facility.

District 1 County Commissioner Carrie Blumert said the new jail will be a major upgrade from the current facility.

“The new county jail will thankfully look and feel nothing like our current jail. The new jail will be 1-2 stories, with ample room for outdoor recreation space for detainees, medical facilities, mental health care, in-person visitation, diversion programs, classrooms for education and job training programs, on-site courtrooms and more,” said Blumert. 

The commissioner approved a contract with HOK for the design of the facility during a May 24 meeting. HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm with 26 offices located on three continents. The Citizens Bond Oversight Advisory Board recommended the firm after reviewing offers from four firms.

Blumert says HOK is partnering with a local architecture firm, REES Associates and the County Commissioners are likely to choose a location later this summer. 

“Our Citizen Bond Oversight Committee is currently reviewing land submissions to determine the best fit for the project based on factors such as proximity to downtown, cost, acreage, access to utilities, bus routes, and access to social services,” said Blumert.

The county has received proposals for 10 different sites to build the new jail. Four of the potential sites are located east of I-35. They include near land near NE 10th St. and I-35; SE 29th St. and Kickapoo Turnpike; Midwest Blvd. and Wilshire Blvd.; and 17501 NE 150 St.

Blumert says the County Commissioners are excited to be teaming with HOK given their expertise.

The new jail is set to have major improvements from that of the current one.

“Our current jail has no outdoor space for detainees, no natural lighting, no space for diversion programs and education programs, no space for minimum security detainees, no in-person visitation, and no dedicated medical wing built into the design,” said Blumert. “Our new facility will be an incredible investment in humane, safe, and rehabilitative detention by partnering with diversion and treatment programs from the community.”

Blumert says that she is hopeful the groundbreaking will occur in 2024 and for completion of the facility in 2026.

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