picture by: Photo by Eric Ayres
WHEELING — Wheeling City Council members met briefly Monday to hear a first reading of an ordinance to enter into a $9 million contract to build the city’s new fire department headquarters.
The action comes after city leaders announced last week that bids for the long-awaited project were higher than expected. Since then, city officials had worked with the lowest-priced bidder and project engineer — M&G Architects and Engineers of Wheeling — to cut about $1 million from the construction costs of the job to keep it in the budget.
A second and final reading of the ordinance is expected to follow a vote to approve the contract at the city council’s next meeting on May 17. The order will authorize Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron to spend $9 million with PCS &build of Cleveland as general contractor. for the new headquarters, which is set to be built on property the city acquired last year along the 17and Street in East Wheeling.
Wheeling Fire Chief Jim Blazier said Monday a number of cosmetic changes and other tweaks had been made that would ultimately save money without changing the size of the building. or one of its purposes.
“The functionality of the building is going to stay the same,” Blazier said.
“The lowest bid was $10 million,” Herron added. “Various things were deducted, and we were able to reduce that to $9 million with deductions that the fire department participated in and agreed with.”
Some of the cost-saving modifications include the elimination of a number of windows, including six exterior windows, five exterior windows in the apparatus bay where the fire trucks will be stored, and some windows along the lower level of the building. A change in the size of the precast concrete panels on the exterior of the building will also save a significant amount of money.
“We changed the panel sizes from 12-inch panels to 8-inch panels,” Herron said.
Blazier noted that the panels won’t be as thick as the original specs had been in the original designs. The panel size adjustment will reflect a savings of $267,000.
Adjustments will also see urinals removed from designs in the shower room and a backup generator on site will be dropped from one that could continue to power everything in the building – including air conditioning units – to one that does not. only powers heat and light in the event of a blackout, a downgrade that will save $50,000.
One of the major savings will come from the elimination of a tornado shelter area that was built into the original design, which was a suggested addition but not a requirement for the installation. This design change will save $311,000.
“The size of the building — the square footage of the building and the amenities of the building — were not compromised,” Herron said. “It’s still a 26,000 square foot building.”
Money from the city’s service fee will be used to repay funds from a bond package that will be used for construction. When the city council approved the bond ordinance last year, the wording authorized up to $9 million in funding for the project. This amount of funding had provided a cushion well above the engineer’s estimate of just under $7.8 million.
However, officials noted that construction costs have been high amid ongoing supply chain issues for materials and a volatile national economy.
Herron said time was running out because the city got a favorable financial package from the bank, but that has a deadline, as does the window for accepting an offer. With the “clock ticking” on funding and the bid proposal, city leaders had to find ways to scale the project down to one that was on budget without jeopardizing the state-of-the-art fire department. technology that officials intend to build.
Similar to the current construction of the new Wheeling Police Department headquarters in Center Wheeling, expenses associated with new furniture, wiring, technology equipment and other fire department headquarters costs are not included in the overall construction cost, Herron noted.
The existing vacant structures were recently demolished by Edgco Inc. of Lansing and are being removed from the 17and Street property, where site preparation will be followed by construction shortly thereafter if the contract is approved by council on May 17. Herron noted that the 30-day submission and deadline to pull the financial package trigger falls the following day, May 18.
Another adjustment to save money on the project is to extend the construction period beyond the initial one-year window.
“In order to bring the price down, we had to extend it to 18 months,” Herron said, noting that the delay won’t be a problem for firefighters. “It’s going to be a very nice project.”
PCS &build submitted what was considered the lowest best bid for the project with its original $10 million proposal. Grae-Con Construction had submitted a bid for $9,860,000, but officials said their bid had a technical error and was not accepted. Other contractors and their bids for the fire department headquarters construction job included a bid from Coliainni Construction for $10,375,000, one from Hudson Group for $10,388,000 and another from Rycon Construction for $10,267,000. $.