The Town of Creston announced at a town council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 18 that they have cancelled the tender process for their Creston Emergency Services Building project, after the two tender bids that they received exceeded the funding available for the project.
“I wouldn’t say we’re going back to square one. What we’re trying to analyze right now is how construction costs come in at $770 a sq. ft., when all your guidelines and contractors come in at well under $350 a sq. ft.,” said Michael Moore, the chief administrative officer at the Town of Creston.
The two tender bids the town received were priced at $12.6 million and $12.9 million, which does not include GST.
“How did we get prices that come in at $770? We have to try and understand if the pandemic was part of the problem why,” said Moore. “Everybody is shocked. The architect, everyone is shocked at that price.”
In an October 2018 referendum, the town received voter permission to borrow a maximum of $4.5 million for the construction of the new fire and ambulance hall. The site of the future building is on Cook Street beside the Pealow’s Independent Grocer, where 2.14 acres of land were purchased in January 2020 for $375,000 from Choice Properties Real Estate.
According to Moore, the town has invested $370,000 into the project: $170,000 for a 2017 design development report and $200,000 for the architectural firm.
“We have to determine if there’s a change of scope or modifying of scope of the project, like if we have to change the size of the building,” said Moore. “We have to understand what exactly got us the price of $770 a sq. ft.”
He added that an explanation was not provided as to how $770 per sq. ft. was determined, and the next step will be to consult with construction professionals to figure out how that price was met.
“There’s no point of reference that we have — architects, building professionals — we don’t understand how we got that price,” he said.
Mayor Ron Toyota said that more time will be needed to get in contact with the right professionals.
“It’s not council that’s going to pick it apart, because we’re not professionals on this,” said Toyota. “Staff will be reviewing this and have meetings set up this week.”
There were residents in attendance who expressed concerns about the costs of the project, and Toyota said that council shares those same concerns.
“We’re looking at finding answers and solutions. We could spend all day speculating, but at this point, what council has done is we rejected the two bids that came in,” he said. “Now we’re going to review what has happened and hopefully come up with some solutions.”
-With files from Brian Lawrence
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