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Contra Costa County supervisors may have preferred to hold the dedication of the new county administration building in person rather than virtually, as took place late Tuesday afternoon.

But they took some solace in that the new 3½-story, 72,000-square-foot building was dedicated while longtime County Administrator David Twa could see it before his imminent retirement.

“You have played an integral role in making it happen,” Supervisor Federal Glover told Twa on Tuesday, at the retiring administrator’s final Board of Supervisors meeting in that role.

And though a few Sheriff’s Office coroner’s inquests have been carried out in person in the new supervisors’ chamber, the Board of Supervisors has yet to meet there in person, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, other staffers have gathered there on many Tuesdays, as the supervisors themselves appeared on the big chamber TV screen via Zoom during meetings.

County administration, human resources and other employees have been gradually moving into the new building facing Escobar Street that replaces the 66-year-old administration building across the street. At 12 stories, it remains one of the tallest buildings in Contra Costa County.

For most of the past decade, officials have said the old building no longer suits the county’s needs, and isn’t seismically safe or energy efficient. The old building will be torn down and the land used for parking.

A ‘looming force’ no more

As part of a pre-recorded program that included a tour of the new building’s interior, four former Contra Costa County supervisors congratulated the current board and the county employees who led the planning and construction efforts. Tom Powers, a supervisor from 1979 through 1995, called the old building a “looming force over the city of Martinez.”

“It served its purpose, but its time has come and gone,” said Powers.

County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, noting that 2020 has been a tough slog for myriad reasons, called the new building “a nice way to end the year, looking forward to the new one.”

The new administration building is one of two major Contra Costa County building projects in Martinez over the past few years. A new building at Glacier Drive and Muir Road off state Highway 4 has opened within the past year, allowing for consolidation of most Sheriff’s Office operations in Martinez there.

The combined costs of these two centers and associated buildings has been about $110 million.

Planning for the new administration building fell to Assistant County Administrator Eric Angstadt, who hosted the virtual tour. He was heartily congratulated by the supervisors Tuesday.

“(Angstadt) gave this project the same loving care that he would have given a project in his own home,” Supervisor John Gioia said.

It was noted Tuesday afternoon that Angstadt and his wife had a baby during a key period of the building’s planning. Referring to the administration building project, Glover said, “He actually had two babies.”