Shell Building Becoming Reality

After reworking the original concept and a project re-bid, ground was finally broken last week on Blythewood’s shell building. Digging in at Doko Meadows last Wednesday are: Larry Griffin, Town Councilman; Ed Parler, Economic Development Consultant; Bill Hart, CEO Fairfield Electric Cooperative; Blythewood Mayor J. Michael Ross; Town Councilmen Eddie Baughman and Malcolm Gordge and Kevin Key, Lyn/Rich Contracting Co., Inc. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

After reworking the original concept and a project re-bid, ground was finally broken last week on Blythewood’s shell building. Digging in at Doko Meadows last Wednesday are: Larry Griffin, Town Councilman; Ed Parler, Economic Development Consultant; Bill Hart, CEO Fairfield Electric Cooperative; Blythewood Mayor J. Michael Ross; Town Councilmen Eddie Baughman and Malcolm Gordge and Kevin Key, Lyn/Rich Contracting Co., Inc. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

BLYTHEWOOD (Sept. 8, 2016) – After several stops and starts and adjustments to the overall plan, Blythewood’s spec building on the grounds of Doko Meadows Park is at last on its way to becoming a reality.

“It’s for real this time,” Ed Parler, the Town’s Economic Development consultant, told The Voice last week, just days after a ground-breaking ceremony at the site. “We’ve awarded the contract, and construction should begin in the next seven to 10 days.”

The Town announced the winning bid on the project last month after Lyn-Rich Contracting Co., Inc. of West Columbia submitted a base bid of $379,850. With options, which Town Council voted to accept, the Lyn-Rich bid came to $388,100. Those options include walkways and special fire protection equipment.

The August bids were the second round of bids on the project. Council put the construction out for bid a second time after bids opened last June came in ranging from $524,000 to $761,455 – all well over the $410,000 budget for the project.

The June bids forced Council and architect Ralph Walden to rethink the scope of the spec building.

“We had the specs beyond a shell,” Walden said in July, “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.”

Specifications for the second round of bids included only rough plumbing and eliminated the HVAC unit. Also eliminated were interior doors and ceiling tiles, connection to water and sewer and all walkways. Finished siding was substituted for primed siding and paint. Specifications were changed for deck and rail materials, windows, doors and shingles.

The spec – or “shell” – building is itself a scaled-down version of a plan three years ago for the Town to build a restaurant in the park, utilizing grant money from the Fairfield Electric Co-Op and a $1 million loan from Santee Cooper. That plan called for the Town to construct a restaurant and lease the facility out. But a newly elected Town Council balked at that idea.

“The new Council had questions about the Town being in the restaurant business and carrying all that debt,” Parler said. “So we scaled down the project. Rather than doing a fully fitted out building, we would construct a shell. Hopefully, by the first of the year we will be able to sell it and have the owner finish it out.”

And while there are certain restrictions on what kind of business could set up shop in a building located in a publicly owned park, Parler said the likelihood is high that it would be a restaurant after all. The building could also serve as an office building, Parler said.

Fairfield Electric Co-Op has been instrumental in making the shell building a reality, Parler said. A 2013 economic development grant from the Co-Op netted the Town $240,714, and a year later the Co-Op pitched in another $216,167, for a total of $456,881, Parler said.

Last month, Town Administrator Gary Parker told Council that the Town still holds $325,916 of the original $456,881 utility grant from Fairfield Electric Co-Op. The balance of the costs of the shell building, Parker said, can probably be taken from Hospitality Tax revenue.

Parler said the Town’s intent is to recover those funds with the sale of the shell building.

Construction is slated to begin any day now, Parler said, and should be wrapped up in approximately 150 days. The Town will begin marketing the building for sale in November.