Alachua OKs cost of municipal building
Published: Saturday, October 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 30, 2005 at 11:05 p.m.
ALACHUA - It's been almost a month since this city planned to break ground on its new municipal building, and the project now costs more than $2 million more than initial estimates.
But city commissioners this week decided to proceed with construction, anyway, voting unanimously to negotiate with Hashman Construction in Jacksonville, which submitted a bid of $6.1 million, compared to a 2004 estimate of about $4 million.
"It was more than what was evaluated because of the hurricanes and rising costs of building supplies and fuel, and certainly, we understand that the longer we wait, the more costs could go up," said City Manager Clovis Watson Jr.
The project hit its first snag last summer, when architects for Skinner, Vignola, McLean Inc. told commissioners the project would likely cost roughly $460,000 more than another recent estimate due to rising construction costs because of last year's hurricanes, low mortgage rates and high costs for steel and cement.
Then, a request for bids yielded only two proposals, leading Watson and commissioners to consider extending the deadline for proposals. R.D. Michaels in Maitland, which proposed a $7 million bid, was the only other company to submit a bid for the project.
Ultimately, commissioners decided this week to move forward with the lowest bidder, saying the building is sorely needed and construction costs will only continue to climb. Commissioners have already budgeted $6 million for the project, officials said.
"We made a decision to stick with the two and recommend the low bid, because if the city were to go back out and readvertise, with the time it would take and the effects of Katrina and Rita, we didn't feel comfortable we'd receive any lower bids than we already had," Watson said.
The new municipal building will bring the city's police department and its administrative services under one roof.
Alachua Mayor Jean Calderwood said the project was worth it, even at the higher cost.
"The price tag encompasses two major buildings for the city," Calderwood said. "Unfortunately, the cost has risen, and in our opinion, it will continue to rise. We will just have to stay on top of the budget and cut wherever possible to make sure we stay within our bounds. I can assure the citizens that we'll make the most prudent decisions possible in regard to this new building."
Amy Reinink can be reached at 352-374-5088 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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