Swinerton Builders gets approval fron Washington County commissioners on July 3; officials hope to start project at fairgrounds in Hillsboro by the end of this year.

COURTESY OF WASHINGTON COUNTY - The south approach to the proposed Event Center at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro. Swinerton Builders is the choice of county commissioners as the construction manager/general contractor for the project, which is scheduled to break ground late this year and be completed in 2020.Washington County has named Swinerton Builders as the construction manager/general contractor for the multipurpose event center at the fairgrounds in Hillsboro.

The firm topped seven that responded to a county request that bypasses competitive bidding requirements, under which the lowest responsive bidder gets the contract. Several potential contractors were interviewed and ranked.

County commissioners approved the staff recommendation on Tuesday, July 3.

Swinerton is based in San Francisco but has offices across the South and West, including one in Portland.

Among its local projects are the five-story First Tech Federal Credit Union in Hillsboro, which is the largest to use cross-laminated timber as measured by square footage; the Ilani Casino Resort of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, opened in 2017 near Ridgefield, Wash., and the Mia Hamm Resource Library at Nike's World Headquarters in Beaverton.

The county's initial contract with Swinerton is for $100,000 for preconstruction work, leading to a final contract that includes a guaranteed maximum price for construction. Assuming completion of that work and approval of a final contract, the county hopes to break ground for the 91,200-square-foot building late this year. Completion is envisioned by late 2020.

The total project is estimated at $46 million.

The commissioners will pay for the current project largely through Gain Share funds. They are state payments that recoup losses from property tax breaks the county granted for investments of more than $100 million, such as those by Intel and Genentech. Washington County has been the largest recipient of Gain Share funds, which state lawmakers renewed in 2015.

Hillsboro has pledged $8 million from lodging tax proceeds, and the Washington County Visitors Association, $1 million, for the project.

None of those sources requires voter approval.

Voters rejected financing measures in 2002 and 2008.

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