For all bids on construction of the proposed 146-space parking structure not only have come in overbudget, but the "lowest" of those less-than-magnificent seven proposals was nearly $1 million over estimates. And the highest bid received was nearly $6 million.
The free public parking garage, the biggest single structural element of Greencastle's $19 million Stellar Communities grant package, was figured as a $3,393,529 construction project, according to estimators' estimates, Mayor Sue Murray told the Redevelopment Commission at a special session at City Hall.
"You could have heard a pin drop when they were doing the bid opening," City Attorney Laurie Hardwick said.
The lowest bid received -- $4,387,000 -- was identically submitted by two firms, F. A. Wilhelm Construction and Hageman Construction, both of Indianapolis.
The other five bids on the parking garage project, in ascending order, were:
-- R. L. Turner Construction, Zionsville, $4,895,000.
-- Hannig Construction, Terre Haute, $4,932,000.
-- Weddle Bros. Construction, Bloomington, $5,330,000.
-- Midwest Construction, Indianapolis, $5,700,000.
-- Bulley & Andrews Construction, Chicago, $5,950,000.
Naturally, all seven bids were formally and unanimously rejected by the Redevelopment Commission on a motion by Gary Lemon.
"The architects were very mortified," Mayor Murray told the redevelopment group, which is funding the city's portion of the project through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds it administers for the city.
Earlier this spring, project architect Bill Browne of Ratio Architects, Indianapolis, predicted construction on the two-story parking garage would commence in "a July-August timeframe."
The Ratio spokesman indicated a 12-month window was being allowed for construction but Browne said he didn't believe it would take nearly that long to finish the ambitious project.
"We're hoping to complete this faster than 12 months," he said at the time, meaning a late spring 2014 opening was possible.
That, however, seems unlikely now that the bids have been rejected and a rebidding process will be necessary.
"So it'll be what, September?" commission member Gwen Morris asked of a possible construction start.
"I hope not," the mayor responded, remaining optimistic that issues apparently leading to the higher bids could be resolved swiftly via a timely rebidding.
Among issues that reportedly impacted the construction bids were:
-- A misinterpretation of road closure and excavation timing and site requirements of the contractor.
-- Strict adherence to certain restrictions and specifications, some of which the mayor believes can be eliminated from the contract.
-- Extra expenses affecting the overbudget totals by requiring such materials as zinc instead of painted metal in some areas and restricting contractors to a terra cotta exterior that limited builders' material sources.
The public parking garage is to be constructed on city-acquired property bordered by Jackson, Walnut and Indiana streets, just a block from the square.
The structure will provide free parking in the downtown with vehicles entering and exiting only via the Jackson Street side of the garage. Entry will be made via the south end of the Jackson Street side with the exit at the north end of the same side.
Ratio Architects recently unveiled drawings of a building featuring a limestone look and red brick-like accents that was seen co-existing nicely with older, historic buildings in the downtown area.
A series of window openings featuring terra cotta fins have been designed to help provide natural ventilation for the garage interior and allow natural light inside as well.
For the total $4.4 million project (a figure that includes soft costs and property acquisition as well as construction expenses), the city has received grants totaling $3,550,000 and has made application for a $600,000 development loan from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA). The Redvelopment Commission will be responsible for that loan, should it be needed to complete the project.
Local match for the parking garage project is $300,000, of which $268,000 already has been expended (including property acquisition costs), the mayor said.