Cook County Community YMCA:
Grand Marais, Minnesota

A collaboration between Cook County, City of Grand Marais, ISD 166 and Duluth YMCA.

The Cook County Community YMCA project began 10 years ago as a dream to build a Community Center in Grand Marais. In 2009, Cook County voters approved by referendum a 1% Local Option Sales Tax to construct and improve community centers and public recreation areas in Grand Marais, Tofte and Lutsen that transformed their dream into a reality.

ORB was selected on a qualifications basis over 6 other firms to be the Owner’s Representative and Construction Manager for the project. The selection committee stated three reasons why they chose ORB: “1) they have team-building and relationship s kills that set them apart from other firms; 2) their organizational skills, both on paper and in-person, were extraordinary; and 3) they have a lot of experience working on public projects and facilitating local involvement.

Find your Project’s Sweet Spot

Unique Services

  • Assisted the County in developing a partnership with the Duluth Family YMCA. The YMCA validated operational expense projections and ensured stability within the management structure.
  • Assisted the County with settlement of a contract dispute between an aquatics consultant previously engaged by the City of Grand Marais who claimed breach of contract. The settlement ensured that the County and City would move forward with the project under a joint powers agreement.
  • Guided the County through a site analysis which ultimately led to a partnership with ISD 166. By attaching the Community Center to the school it is anticipated that the School District will save $300,000 in critical renovation costs and an additional $40,000 per year in maintenance and utility expenses.


  • Owners Representative / Construction Management
  • Liaison between Owner, architect, engineers and contractors
  • Professional construction advice, input and leadership on planning activities to facilitate decision-making leading up to the design phase
  • Site analysis and selection, preparation of pro forma and information needed to secure financing
  • Develop an overall facility needs assessment including future expansion planning
  • Solicit community input
  • Prepare total project cost budgets needed for feasibility and financing
  • Coordinate surveying and soil investigation reports
  • Participate in design review meetings with local officials
  • Development of responsibility matrix and master program schedule
  • Development of centralized cost management system for project
  • Design team solicitation, selection and management
  • Construction Management and Site Supervision
  • Value engineering recommendations
  • Comprehensive review and provide input on final construction bid documents
  • Monitor request for information (RFI) process
  • Coordinate temporary on-site facilities
  • Submit regular project updates and conduct weekly site construction meetings
  • Coordinate shop drawings and product approvals with architect and engineers
  • Observe construction for quality and conformance to documents
  • Coordinate inspections by Building Officials, architects and engineers
  • Manage punch list walk through and approval
  • Administer warranty work throughout warranty period

Client Reference

  • Braidy Powers, Auditor/Treasurer, Cook County 
  • 218.387.3646