Havelock appears ready to move forward with plans to build a new city hall building when the low construction bid on the project came in below the amount of money available for the project.
Marand Builders, of Charlotte, had a low bid of $1.66 million for construction of the proposed 9,295 square-foot building designed by Oakley Collier Architects.
The new building would replace the current 70-year-old city hall building and is to be constructed in roughly the same location.
The highest of 11 bids on the project came in at nearly $2.2 million.
The architect has to certify the bids and present them to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, which is financing the project with a $1.7 million loan and a $100,000 grant.
The next step would be a public hearing, most likely in late September, and final contract approval by the Havelock Board of Commissioners.
The city has been considering the project for more than five years, with alternatives including a renovation to the existing building or construction of a new building at a different location. In the end, commissioners felt construction of a new building at the current location was the best available option.
Nicholas Wade, of Oakley Collier Architects, said he expected construction to take about nine months. The building would include load-bearing metal studs, steel columns and wood pre-constructed trusses.
"We could be in it at this time next year," Havelock City Manager Jim Freeman said.
Officials were pleased the bids came in slightly less than what the architect had forecasted last year.
"We try really hard to get it right," Architect Timothy Oakley said. "Our clients put a lot of faith in the budget numbers we give them."
He said the number of bidders on the project was an indicator of the present economy.
"I think it says that there is still a lot of room for growth in our economy and that the contractor base is still hungry," he said. "It’s still a great time for a client that has a project to bid. The prices are still aggressive and you can see on the bid tab that they are all very close."
Marand Builders put in a bid of $59,224 for tearing down the current city hall building. Wade said that cost could be added to the base bid, as well as various other peripheral alternatives that the city board could elect to have done. The bids included only the brick and mortar portion of the building.
Havelock Finance Officer Lee Tillman said commissioners had tentatively decided in June to use about $389,900 of reserve money, if needed, for demolition, soil remediation and furniture for the new building. She said the city would use money from the general reserve fund, water fund and sewer fund.
"I’m sure we will be using some of these funds, but it’s hard to know now exactly how much of it," Tillman said.
Freeman said construction of the new building was a step forward.
"The city hall is very much needed, but if you put it in proper perspective with everything else, the wastewater, in terms of the health and safety, those are very much important also, the wastewater problems, the investment for our community in terms of water and sewer to bring growth back in, those are really big steps," he said. "This helps improve our image. It improves our quality of life."