Last summer when the county administration got its first estimate of demolition and reconstruction costs for the planned sheriff’s headquarters in place of the old Memorial Hospital, the numbers were unsettling. TTV Architects put the cost at $6.2 million, well above the $5 million the county had projected, or the slightly smaller amount it had budgeted.
On Monday, the Flagler County Commission unanimously approved a bid to do the job for $4.2 million, not including an approved contingency fund of $200,000. That doesn’t mean that change orders couldn’t push the final cost higher. But in a sharp reversal from last summer, the starting point of the project’s cost is below what the county had budgeted, rather than far above. Jacksonville’s C.C. Borden Construction won the bid.
“I’m happy that the project came in under budget,” County Administrator Craig Coffey said. “You don’t always know that when you start a project so far out.” He credited Faith Alkhatib, the county’s chief engineer who’s overseeing the project, as well as shifts in the construction market and further discussions with the project architect.
One signal change that brought the cost down, Alkhatib said: the project originally foresaw a little over half of the building’s 50,000 square feet being converted to a sheriff’s administration space. But instead of a 26,000 square foot facility, the sheriff will now get 35,000 square feet. Ironically, scaling up the projected renovation brought the price down. Nevertheless, some “bells and whistles,” as County Spokesman Carl Laundrie described them, were also scaled back from the original plan to help bring the cost down. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly noted that lab space the sheriff had requested was not included in this phase of construction. It is.)
The project calls for the partial demolition of existing walls and the exterior canopy, removal of the existing ceiling, plumbing and light fixtures, all of which are to be replaced of course, new structural framing, new ceilings, doors and door frames, new perimeter fencing, landscaping, a surveillance security system and other details. Some 15,000 square feet–what used to be part of the patient wings of the hospital–will remain untouched by renovation, other than a separation wall that will go up between the new and old segment. It’ll be up to the county commission to decide in the future what to do with that portion of the building.
Six firms, all from Florida’s east coast, submitted bids ranging from $4.2 million to $5.1 million. Demolition and renovation is set to start in January. Alkhatib says the project should be completed in 10 months. While it is possible that the contractor will request change orders, even beyond the $200,000 contingency, Alkhatib says her goal is to have none.
“The architect for this project was spot on all the time, fast turn-around, seemed to listen to what everybody wanted to have input on, and it made a huge difference in how fast the project moved, and the bids,” Commissioner Barbara Revels said, referring to Jacksonville’s TTV Architects Inc.
The sheriff’s administrative headquarters is only part of the county’s vast construction projects planned for the next couple of years. A new jail and renovation of the old sheriff’s administrative space is another. The estimate for that project also originally came in far above budget last summer. Construction bids are due on Dec. 9. “A week after that I will have an idea about guaranteed maximum price for the jail, and I am optimistic,” Alkhatib said.
The county commission unanimously approved the C.C. Borden Construction bid at its meeting Monday.