In February, Columbus councilmen agreed to make the city its own contractor for a $1.65 million Trotter Convention Center renovation after bids for a general contractor came in well above project budget.
City project managing firm J5 Broaddus was tasked with acting as the city’s agent and split the project into 11 separate components. Bids on the first two projects, rooftop improvements and the rooftop air conditioner, were opened Tuesday. Councilmen will have the option to approve the low bidder or lowest and best bidder when they meet next Tuesday.
The low bidder for the rooftop was Graham Roofing of West Point at $92,533, which said it could complete its part of the project within 90 days of starting. Advanced Air Systems of Columbus had the lowest bid for rooftop air conditioner installation at $19,208 with a 45-day project completion timeframe. Each component had three bidders.
J5 Broaddus senior project manager Robyn Eastman said his estimates were $90,000 for the rooftop and $25,000 for the air conditioning unit.
Bids for two more components, interiors and lighting, will be opened April 22. Bid openings for courtyard improvements and flooring will be opened May 6. Project architect Major Andrews IV is putting together information packages for four more components, including Internet installation, lobby paneling, exterior repairs to the north patio and interior painting.
The last component, installation of an elevator, has an estimated cost of $175,000, Eastman said. He will be given the go-ahead to request proposals from sub-contractors on that portion depending on the amount of funding left after bids are awarded on the first 10 components.
“I’m not going to put the elevator on the street until I have numbers for the other 10 packages,” Eastman said. “I would like to do the elevator, but we’ll just have to see how it goes. If we run short of money, the elevator will be the thing that will not be done.”
The two-week process between opening general contractor bids and the city choosing itself as the contractor will not cause a delay, Eastman said, as the project is still scheduled to be complete at the end of this year.
“We’re going to finish that building in October,” Eastman said. “Frank (Goodman, Trotter Center Director) has items scheduled in the Trotter through the 23rd of May. We were going to be able to do the roof and the air conditioner and a little bit of exterior repairs, but we were not going to bid for anything inside of any consequence until the 26th of May because of prior commitments,” Eastman said. “The real work was going to start in June and we’re still going to be able to do that. Our plan is to finish this by the end of October and I’ve got two months in there for a project closeout where we can tie some bows on some things.”
In September, councilmen authorized borrowing an amount not to exceed $2.5 million from the Mississippi Development Bank and using in-lieu fees from Columbus Light and Water of approximately $225,000 a year to service the debt at a 4.55 percent interest rate. Andrews was hired in August as project architect for $80,000, 4 percent of the $2 million budgeted overall for renovations. J5 Broaddus is receiving $99,000, or 6 percent of the $2 million. It will not receive extra compensation for acting as the city’s agent and hiring subcontractors. A $126,000 contingency fund is included in the budget.
Eastman said he believes people will be able to start scheduling events in the Trotter again sometime in November.
“By Thanksgiving, they’ll have this building back,” Eastman said, “and it will be something they can be proud of.”
List of project components:
■ Roof air conditioner unit
■ Courtyard improvements
■ Lobby paneling
■ Exterior repairs and north patio work
■ Interior painting
■ Elevator *
*If funding allows
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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