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Terrus Real Estate named construction manager for Science Center of Iowa


Terrus Real Estate Group has been selected as the owner’s representative for the new $65 million Science Center of Iowa. The Des Moines-based real estate advisory and management services firm will provide overall management of the project so Science Center officials can focus on their core business of running the museum.

“We’re very excited; it’s a huge project,” said Gayle Farrell, Terrus’ director of construction management. “We’re excited what it will do for downtown Des Moines and how it will revitalize the area.”

Ground is expected to be broken on the project next spring, with construction slated to begin in April. The new 100,000-square-foot, $20 million Science Center will be an interactive and creative learning center. Farrell said the project’s grand opening is scheduled for April 2005. Terrus’ commitment extends six months after the doors open.

“We want to make sure things operate the way they are supposed to,” Farrell said.

From negotiating contracts with vendors, city officials, architects and contractors, to providing information about parking, utilities and traffic flow, as well as providing critical thinking and review of the owner’s program, design, budget and schedule, Terrus is involved in many areas of the project. Farrell said the firm will serve as an extension to the Science Center’s staff, enabling them to focus on design and fund raising, among other duties.

“We will do so many different things,” she said, “so they don’t have to worry about bricks and mortar.”

Science Center officials currently are in the middle of making design decisions, Farrell said. “We’re trying to make the facility as efficient as possible while getting the programs the Science Center folks want,” she said. “The biggest challenge is assuring people that the facility is something Iowans will use and think will be an asset for the community. The Science Center has done a lot of research to make sure its programs meets Iowans’ needs, and we want to help them do that.”

Last week, ownership of the land for the project was transferred to the Science Center and parking alternatives were approved by the Des Moines City Council.

“Parking is a huge issue,” Farrell said. “The next step is to get the design within the budget.”

Farrell said the Science Center is one of the biggest projects her company has worked on. Terrus typically handles between 150 and 200 construction management jobs each year. Its construction management department is among a select group of construction management agencies that are ISO 9001 certified nationally. Farrell said the company’s ability to ensure repeatable processes with measurable results, as well as its experience with local construction businesses, helped it secure the job.

“It’s probably the most complicated project we have worked on because there are so many moving parts,” she said. “But we have a lot of experience, and we know how owners think and how they want things done. Because of our experience, it’s easy for us to go into a project and hit the ground running.”  

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