New bids on downtown parking garage to be opened Aug. 1

Friday, June 28, 2013
Artist rendering of parking garage for downtown. City officials will be accepting new bids for the structure after the last bids came in a million dollars too high.

With no single, obvious reason why bids on Greencastle's proposed downtown parking garage project came in nearly a million dollars too high or more, city officials will try, try again.

Earlier this month, all bids on construction of the 146-space free public parking structure not only came in way too high but served to mortify (the mayor's word) representatives of Ratio Architects, the city's Indianapolis advisers on the project. After all, even the "lowest" of the seven bids on the two-story structure was nearly $1 million above estimates.

As the largest single structural element of Greencastle's $19 million Stellar Communities grant package, the parking garage was listed as a $3,393,529 construction project, according to estimators' figures.

The lowest bid received -- $4,387,000 -- was identically submitted by two firms, F. A. Wilhelm Construction and Hageman Construction, both of Indianapolis. The high bid of nearly $6 million ($5,950,000 to be exact) came from Bulley & Andrews Construction, Chicago.

At the June 12 meeting of the Greencastle Redevelopment Commission all seven bids were formally and unanimously rejected.

At Wednesday evening's meeting of that same group, members learned that a rebidding effort is under way with a pre-bid meeting scheduled July 12 and a new bid opening to follow on Aug. 1.

"That sets us back two months," City Attorney Laurie Hardwick said, "but we should still be under construction this year."

This spring, project architect Bill Browne predicted construction would commence in "a July-August timeframe" while indicating a 12-month window was seen for construction.

"We're hoping to complete this faster than 12 months," Browne said at the time, meaning a late spring 2014 opening was possible.

However, with the rebidding, that now probably means more like a mid-2014 unveiling.

The architects and city officials met recently for a line-by-line review of project specs and ended with a revised construction document after discussions with bidders as to why proposals had come in so far out of line.

Among the revisions Hardwick pointed out Wednesday were:

-- Decreasing the height of side walls around the top level, although not so much as to make it possible for someone to drive over the edge.

-- Removal of decorative trim in some areas of the garage.

-- Offering an option of a brick exterior where terra cotta had previously been required.

-- Clarification of street closures and on-site matters during excavation and construction, an issue seen as possibly reducing the number of days needed for the work.

"So is Ratio optimistic?" Redevelopment Commission President Erika Gilmore asked Hardwick.

"Yes, they are," the city attorney confidently and succinctly responded.

The public parking garage will be constructed on city-acquired property bounded by Jackson, Walnut and Indiana streets, just a block from the courthouse square.

It is designed to provide free downtown parking for the general public, area business personnel and courthouse visitors and employees alike.

Vehicles will enter and exit only via South Jackson Street. Entry will be via the south end of the Jackson Street side with the exit at the north end of the same side.

Ratio Architects has unveiled drawings of a structure featuring a limestone look and red brick-like accents co-existing nicely with older, historic buildings in the downtown area.

A series of window openings featuring terra cotta fins are 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.

The redevelopment group is funding the city's portion of the project through Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds it administers for the city.

Local match for the parking garage project is $300,000, of which an estimated $268,000 already has been expended (including property acquisition costs).

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  • I hope last week's Letter to the Editor will give the Redevelopment Commission some thought about whether this garage is really needed. I foresee this structure being less than 20% full most of the time. A surface lot could hold that volume at much less cost. Most people will continue to park on the square or at other, closer lots until they're full, which is rare.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Fri, Jun 28, 2013, at 8:56 AM
  • Can someone explain why we need a parking garage? Level the lot, pave the lot, paint some lines!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    -- Posted by jbastian on Fri, Jun 28, 2013, at 9:08 AM
  • Why we need a parking garage downtown is out of the question. Listen to the voters and spend money available for some improvements that will benefit all the county.

    -- Posted by Earl24 on Fri, Jun 28, 2013, at 9:32 AM
  • Did we build a parking lot for the "Industrial Park" we built on Filmore Rd?

    -- Posted by jbastian on Fri, Jun 28, 2013, at 10:40 AM
  • *

    Shame on all you people downplaying the importance of such an undertaking as the Taj Mahal Parking Garage (although I am sure it will be appropriately named for some past politician or "civic leader").

    Do you not know that they must build it? Not because the spaces are needed or some other sensible reason... no, it must be built b/c they are getting "free" money to build it.

    Its like buying something on sale, even though you don't need it, just because its on sale and you are saving money. (Nevermind that you are still spending money needlessly.)

    And of course you cannot forget the very powerful motivator of "pride" when dealing with politicians. Without the new fancy garage they would not be able to pat themselves on the back and say "look what we did for you!" even though you really dont need it or want it.

    Hey, but at least you can always sell it (along with the rest of the town) to DePauw in the future for "student parking"...LOL.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Mon, Jul 1, 2013, at 2:15 PM
  • As a downtown merchant, I can assure you that additional parking places are needed. Whether that be a parking garage or a parking lot is not something I want to address. I am considering moving my store to a new location because customers can't find anywhere to park. If they DO park in front of my store, they risk being ticketed by the ticket-nazi (some services require more than 2 hours). There are no other parking lots that I'm aware of, aside from the one across from the post office. The Moose has posted signs in their lot, and besides... asking older people or those with disabilities to walk up that hill to the square is inhumane.

    Something definitely needs to be done or our downtown will become as deserted as it currently looks.

    -- Posted by PlatyPius on Fri, Jul 5, 2013, at 12:56 PM
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