CW Council approves contract for new municipal complex

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

The next step in turning a former auto museum into a new Canal Winchester municipal complex will cost the city approximately $4.06 million following approval of a design-build contract by Canal Winchester City Council.

The contract with the Ferguson Construction Company for the 45 E. Waterloo St. building passed 6-1 under emergency language at council’s April 19 meeting.

“The intended schedule is roughly seven months,” said Canal Winchester Contract Services Administrator Bill Sims, “so they would begin demo work on the 26th (April) with completion of Dec. 17. It’s a pretty aggressive schedule, but it gets us in this year, which is a real benefit.”

Ferguson prepared a scope of work, design development drawings, and a guaranteed maximum price proposal for the project. The $4 million-plus price includes $3.66 million for work, $12,500 in preconstruction/design services fees, a design-build fee of $117,385 and $269,187 in general condition costs for the duration of the six-month project.

According to the legislation, “council previously determined it is in the best interest of the city to procure the necessary services for the project by using the design-build method of construction project delivery. Council waived the competitive bidding requirement with respect to the contract for the project and developed its own design-build process as permitted under its charter.”

The Design Build Institute of America defines the process as an accepted way to reference a single-contract, team oriented and collaborative approach to delivering projects and has since been written into legislation, submitted as testimony and used throughout the industry.

Councilwoman Jill Amos said citizens are questioning the escalation in cost and if the city could have bought a new building instead of renovating the one in progress.

“I don’t know, in today’s dollars, that we could build a new building compared to numbers from three years ago,” said Sims, “but that building is positioned fantastically for our use. It’s in the downtown. It opens up the commercial corridor there. We are certainly cost conscious. We’ve tried to squeeze every dollar out of this. COVID has been a factor. People are bidding jobs and by the time they get the jobs, costs are going up.”

Amos felt the former auto museum would still be sitting empty in the middle of town if the city had not stepped in and made a commitment to doing the project.

On Jan. 21, 2020, council authorized the purchase of the 45 E. Waterloo St. McDorman Building for $2.4 million through an owner-financed agreement between the city and Alice McDorman for a 10-year term with the city making quarterly payments of approximately $73,000.

In 2020, $2.2 million was budgeted for renovations of the future municipal complex. Sims said the preliminary figure by a criteria architect was an early estimate based primarily on typical square footage costs for renovation.

“It was also only for the remodel of the building, it did not include the demo of the community center, the new parking lot and site work, data/communication/security and the emergency generator,” said Sims. “The architect developed more comprehensive estimates in February of 2020 that ranged from $3 million to $3.5 million.”

During design development with Lehman Daman, the estimate was initially $3.4 million. Sims said as the design was more fully developed, it moved up progressively to $4.12 million.

“The vast majority of the increase was the result of gaining a fuller understanding of the extent of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing costs,” said Sims. “The existing systems were not salvageable and needed to be replaced in their entirety. The heating and cooling alone will be in excess of $500,000.”

While some council members expressed concern with the layout of the building or the need to pass the legislation under emergency language—which causes the ordinance to go into immediate effect—Councilman Pat Lynch was the lone “no” vote.

According to Sims, a delay of even 30 days pushes scheduled completion of the project from this year into next spring.

“This legislation has been out there,” Councilman Bob Clark said. “We’ve known for a while. There were no public comments in today’s packet regarding the project. I think this has been (discussed) plenty of times in the public. We’ve had a public hearing We’ve had how many meetings? It provides for our city in a growing way…it provides for new city council chambers and more accessibility. It does a lot for the city.”

Council also passed two bond ordinances—one for $3 million in notes for Phase I of the McGill Park project and another for $5 million in notes to cover the cost of the municipal complex project.

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