Arts center bids come over budget

f the Fine and Performing Arts Center.” title=”Artist rendering of the Fine and Performing Arts Center.” width=”300″ height=”183″ class=”size-medium wp-image-4148″ /> Artist rendering of the Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Jay Benedict | Editor-in-Chief

Sometimes $30 million isn’t quite enough.
Bids for the PSU Performing Arts Center were due Oct. 30, but the university hasn’t awarded the project to a contractor because the lowest bid was over the budget. Pitt State has 30 days from the due date to examine its options and award it to one of the contractors.
“We had a base bid that included everything that we wanted in the facility,” said Paul Stewart, director of facilities planning. “But we also included 21 alternate options in case what we received didn’t line up with what we had planned.”
Seven contractors placed bids that were close in price, and Stewart says the lowest was just under $30.7 million. Now, his office is combing through alternates that are in place to see where they can cut costs.
“We had these options in place in case this happened,” Stewart said. “We can examine our options to cut things that won’t sacrifice the quality of the performing arts center that we want, but will allow us to move forward.”
He says fencing around the mechanical structures behind the building are one of the things that can be potentially cut.
Determining which alternative is the best is important because the university has a 30-day window from when the bids were due to award the job. Stewart says it is industry standard that contractors must hold their prices for 30 days, but after that they are free to change their minds.
“Our whole goal during this process is to award the bid to someone because it ensures that we know how much it will cost us and doesn’t stop the project in its tracks,” Stewart said.
He says if the bid is awarded after the 30-day period, contractors are able adjust their price as they see fit. Also, if the bid isn’t awarded to anyone during that time, the university will have to restart the bid process to secure a fixed price for the project.
“This is the closest we’ve been to starting it, and we don’t want to take a step back,” Stewart said. “We’re going to find the alternative that works best for us and award it to someone.”
Stewart says his office wants to award the bid by Nov. 29 so they hit the window. After that, the project could start by the end of the year. The contract usually takes about a month to finalize and the winner has to set up the logistics to get the crew on-site.
“Typically it takes 30 to 45 days to get everything ironed out and start, but I don’t know when we’ll have a ceremonial groundbreaking,” he said. “From there, starting in the winter will make us change our schedule a bit, but we anticipate a construction time of two years.”
The $30 million for the project has been raised by Pitt State through private donors, which includes a $5 million gift on behalf of President Steve Scott’s brother, H. Lee Scott on behalf of the Walton Family Charitable Foundation, and $7 million in student fees over the next 25 years. That total includes more than the construction costs, though. Stewart says it includes planning and architect fees as well, but PSU is doing everything it can to meet the projected costs.
“Once that’s done, we’ll know where we stand and the aim is always to come in on budget,” said Ron Womble, PSU director of media relations. “It’s premature to guess whether or not we’ll try to raise more funds for the performing arts center.”

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