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The Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District is deciding on future uses of the old hospital location at 115 W. E St.

The Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District has selected an architect for the future renovation of the old hospital building at 115 W. E. St.

"There were three responses to the proposal and the board chose the most qualified applicant,” Caroline Wasielewski, chief executive officer for the district, said in an interview.

The board selected local applicant Studio/RA for architectural services at its special board meeting Nov. 14. The yet-to-be signed contract was discussed at the district's regular board meeting Nov. 19.

Studio/RA is an architectural and interior design firm that will help with the design of the retrofit and participate in permitting, the construction process and ensuring ADA requirements are met.

"It's a great location and it plays an important role in the community," said Randy Weinstein, who represents the architectural firm and spoke about the plans to assess the old hospital building.

His goals, he said, will be to evaluate both the exterior and interior of the structure. This will include drafting a plan and deciding on whether mechanical features — such as awnings, landscaping, cabinetry, carpet, or signage — will be added or removed.

"I'm looking to keep some of the old pieces of the hospital and incorporate them into the new design," Weinstein said.

The district is considering renovating the building so space can be leased for adult day care, doctors offices and general office space.

The board still has to approve construction costs after the preliminary plans are drafted.

Chet Beedle, the chief financial officer for the district, said the architect will draft a preliminary plan. Costs of construction would be determined, a request for proposals for construction bids would be issued and finally the board would choose the lowest qualified bidder. A bid process for anything $25,000 and over is mandatory with prevailing wage being paid to construction workers.

Even though board members in the past have said the district plans to spend anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million to remodel the building, this may change.

Plus, board members have not approved any funds to be used for construction. The preliminary plan by the architect will give an estimate of renovation costs, added Beedle.

“My recommendation would be to stay within the $1 million range for the retrofit,” said Beedle.

There are health and environmental hazards to address in the old hospital.

The district hired Yowell Environmental Services, Inc., a firm specializing in building inspections, to analyze asbestos, lead and mold samples throughout the building. This evaluation was completed in September.

The report showed lead and asbestos were found in some building materials, such as in paint, floor tile, fibrous backing and walls.

Mold was not found in the building, although large amounts of water have leaked into various parts of the building due to roof leaks and should be fixed as soon as possible, said the Summary of Comprehensive Asbestos, Lead and Moisture Intrusion Inspection Findings from Yowell Environmental Services, Inc. dated Sept. 8.