No bids for major AHS project

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Andalusia Superintendent of Education Ted Watson, architect Chuck Jones, Mayor Earl Johnson, City Clerk John Thompson, and AHS Athletic Director Trent Taylor were on hand at 2 o’clock Tuesday afternoon, the appointed time for opening bids in a massive project to renovate both the Andalusia High School auditorium and the stadium.

And all of them agreed that having no bids to open may be a good thing.

It’s the second time the Andalusia Board of Education has let bids for this project. In July, the low bid on just the auditorium portion of the project was $5.1 million, approximately $1.1 million higher that a professional estimator had predicted, and did not include architect’s fees, which will be approximately 8 percent.

The board agreed to have architects with Goodwyn Mills and Cawood complete new bid spics that combine both projects, in hopes there would be some cost savings in doing both projects simultaneous.

And it looked for a while as if there was interest. Several contractors attended a pre-bid conference last week, but by Monday night, “word” was all but one had decided not to bid. That contractor also backed away.

“It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the project,” Watson said. “What we’ve been told is there is $186 million worth of bidding taking place in the City of Auburn alone. There are some other big projects under way, too. A lot of sub-contractors are already covered up.

“Some people who were looking at our project got big projects between this week and last week,” he said.

Jones, the board’s architect, said he has actually had this scenario with projects before.

“It does happen,” he said. “It gives us flexibility. We will continue working.”

Jones said because there is no bid, officials will now negotiate to find a contractor for the project.

“We’ve met the requirements of the bid law and the Building Commission,” he said. “Now we can negotiate a price. This gives contractors some flexibility in pricing because they know they’llhave the work. Bid prices are usually higher.

“We will find a suitable builder, not tomorrow, but hopefully soon,” Watson said. “We hope we can keep on target with our planned start date, which is the conclusion of football season, assuming coach Taylor takes us to the playoffs.”

Johnson said the Board of Education now will be in the position the city was in when it rejected all bids in its restaurant and theater projects.

“Working it this way, the city can come in and do some in-kind work, which should reduce the price significantly,” he said.

The board’s next meeting is sset for Mon., Nov. 13.