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October 11, 2012

New Lockley bids are $2 million less

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle Area School District in rebidding its Lockley project managed to trim about $2 million off the cost.

The construction-related bids for the early learning center consolidation project came in at $19,112,833 as compared to the first bid total of $21,212,075 that the board received June 27.

The district opened the second round of bids yesterday.

The district had targeted the project at $19 million and budgeted for that amount. Thus, after seeing the bids in June, the school board agreed to reject the first bids and readvertise.

The second round included many options that were bid as alternates that could lower costs at the board’s discretion. One of those options, not included in the base bid, would be to install geothermal heating system in the building at an extra cost. That type of heating, which is more expensive, was included in the base bid in the first bidding round.

District business manager Joe Ambrosini explained that in addition to the total construction bids, the project will involve an additional $3,250,000 — about 17 percent of the total construction costs  — in “soft costs.” Those include professional services, including the architect’s fee of 6 percent, furniture, and about $990,000 set aside as contingency money for unforeseen problems.

David Esposito of Eckles Architects advised that the board may not spend all of the contingency or may spend very little of it, but it is necessary to have it in reserve “in case” of unknown costs.

According to the bids opened yesterday, the lowest general contractor bidder was GEM Construction of Neshannock Township at $12,869,000. The second-lowest was Hudson Construction Co. at $12,874,000.

Hudson had been the low bidder in June at  $13,918,000.

Other low bidders in the new round are Lugaila Mechanical Inc. of Pittsburgh, $2,573,000 for heating and air conditioning; Shipley Plumbing of Cranberry, Butler County, $1,145,000 for plumbing; Penn Ohio Electrical of Masury, Ohio, $1,273,000 for electrical work; Westmoreland Electric of Tarrs, Pa., $674,000 for technology communication; Commercial Application of Grove City, $219,275 for kitchen equipment; and Executive Landscaping of Vienna, Ohio, $359,558 for landscaping work.

 Ambrosini sent copies of the new bid totals to the board members before last night’s public board meeting.

However, there was no discussion about the bids during that general public meeting.

Ambrosini said a meeting will be scheduled with the full board, probably sometime next week, to detail the bids.

The board then will have to decide whether to proceed with the project or scrap it.

He estimated that about $1 million has already been paid out in professional services for the project’s planning. That amount is included in the “soft cost” figure, he said.

He said that meanwhile, the district solicitor will review the lowest bids to ensure they are complete, and the the architect and construction manager will pull together figures of how the various options will reflect in cost figures.

The bids were opened publicly at 2 p.m. yesterday in the board room with Ambrosini, representatives of Eckles Architects and Thompson Williams construction manager firm in attendance. Board member David DiGiammarino was the only school board member present. Various bidders also attended.

(Email: dwachter@ncnewsonline.com)

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