Spec Bids Stun Budget

BLYTHEWOOD (July 7, 2016) – Architect Ralph Walden told members of Town Council last week that when he opened the first bid for construction of the Depot shell building on June 15, he knew the project was in trouble.

“We received six bids, all of which ranged from $524,000 (Solid Structures) to $761,455 (W Construction, Inc.), all well over the anticipated amount,” Walden said, suggesting that Council reject all the bids and bring the project’s specs in line with the targeted budget of about $410,000 before putting the project out for bid again.

“We had the specs beyond a shell,” Walden said, “and that proved to be the wrong direction. We had wiring, 800 amps for a kitchen, HVAC and a slab. The plan was to give the end user a little more for his money. Now we’re going to take about $80,000 out of it. These were not necessities. We’re going to go with rough plumbing, no HVAC, no wiring and go with an elevated foundation instead of a slab.”

“I expected a lot better numbers,” Councilman Tom Utroska said. “But if we go too far right, it’s too expensive, and too far left, it’s too cheap. So if we build a $200,000 building is that all we’ll get for it?”

“No,” Walden answered. “We’ll have a very nice shell, but the interior will have minimum wall construction.”

The project got off the ground in October 2015 when the Town’s Economic Development Consultant Ed Parler encouraged Council to contract with Walden to design the shell, prepare construction drawings and bid out the construction all at a cost of $18,900. That cost did not include construction oversight. The shell was to be built on the Town Hall grounds with grant money the previous Council was awarded five years ago by Fairfield Electric Cooperative to construct a high-end restaurant in the same location.

The current Council later voted to abandon those plans, but $342,490 of the original $456,881 grant remained for the Town’s use. The money had to be spent on an economic development project, so Council decided to use it to construct the shell building. Parler estimated the Town would have to float about $133,000 for about 90 days to make up the difference between the grant money and the cost of construction, and then pay itself back from the proceeds of the sale of the shell.

Bid documents were originally to be ready by the end of October 2015 in anticipation of awarding a construction contract at the November meeting. In December 2015, the timetable called for the Town to send out a Request for Proposal and Parler said at the time that he hoped the Town would consummate a sale by February 2016.

With bidding now back to square one, a new request for bids appears in the classified section of this issue of The Voice.


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