June 27, 2014 11:44:54 AM
Installation of a new roof and air conditioning unit for the Trotter Convention Center in downtown Columbus are in progress, but the status of negotiations for other components of the facility's renovation remains unknown.
The project was initially split into 10 separate components after the city council named the city itself as the general contractor for the project after bids came in above budget.
After bidding out contracts for roof, air conditioning, electric and mill work, project managing firm J5 Broaddus consolidated the other components, including flooring, ceiling tile, the front wall, the canopy, the auditorium floor and a new sound system, into a single package.
On June 3, J5 Broaddus Senior Project Manager Robyn Eastman said consolidating the remaining packages into one was necessitated when bids from sub-contractors without licenses began to come in. State bid laws prohibit public projects costing $50,000 or more to be performed by unlicensed companies. It was then that Eastman told councilmen that Burks-Mordecai was the apparent low bidder for the consolidated package, but that bid was $72,000 over what was remaining of the $1.65 million set aside for renovation. Councilmen authorized him to negotiate with Burks-Mordecai.
Eastman said after the June 17 council meeting that he was still in negotiations with the low bidders for the electric and mill work, as well as Burks-Mordecai. There was originally an item on that meeting's agenda to discuss awarding contractors projects for the renovation, but it was stricken from the agenda.
A total bid for the consolidated package has not been made public. Since that meeting, multiple attempts to contact J5 Broaddus for an update on negotiations through email, phone and in person have been unsuccessful.
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. Major Andrews IV 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 was included in the budget.
The low bidder for the rooftop was Graham Roofing of West Point at $92,533. Advanced Air Systems of Columbus had the lowest bid for rooftop air conditioner installation at $19,208. A recently opened bid from Webster Electric Company for lighting improvements projected to cost $540,000 was $514,700 -- more than $25,000 under the estimate. That bid has not yet been approved by the council.
Eastman said in April that he expected the renovation to be finished in November.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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