DANVILLE — Danville schools officials are cheering the low bids for the North Ridge Middle School renovation project, which came in $2 million under architects' estimates.
The project — the second of the three building overhauls the district is doing this year and in 2012 and 2013 — was estimated at $15.8 million. However, the general construction, electrical, mechanical and plumbing bids that administrators are recommending for approval total just under $13.76 million.
"We're very pleased with the results," buildings and grounds director Ron Henton said, pointing out that the general, electrical and plumbing contractors for the district's first renovation project, at South View Middle School, all submitted the low bids for the North Ridge project.
The Danville school board will vote on whether to approve the bids on Wednesday.
Under Henton's recommendations, the board would award a construction contract of about $7.72 million to McDowell Builders of Sidell. The amount includes a base bid of about $7.47 million and bids for two alternate projects — $212,208 to resurface the American Legion's drive that runs along the south side of the school, and $36,863 to install windows in the gymnasium.
Also, the board would award an electrical bid of about $1.32 million to Glesco Electric Inc. of Urbana, and both a mechanical bid of about $3.73 million and a plumbing bid of $992,989 to F.J. Strahl of Danville.
Henton said architect Schmidt Associates' estimate for the general contracting, for which the district received seven bids, was $9.1 million. Its estimate for the electrical work, for which the district received three bids, was $2 million, and its estimate for the plumbing work was $1.1 million.
Only Schmidt's estimate for the mechanical work, $3.6 million, was less than the two bids that were submitted, Henton said. F.J. Strahl's low bid "came in just slightly over," he said. Still, "that's within our range."
Superintendent Mark Denman said all of the bids meet specifications, and the firms meet all of the requirements.
If the bids are approved, Henton said, contractors will be in to do field measurements over Christmas break.
"We hope to see some sign of construction probably in February, definitely in March," he said, adding one of the first projects calls for extending the road to the east of the building and demolishing an existing garage.
Denman said officials also are pleased that the project is getting an earlier start than South View's, as it is larger in scope and the building sits on a hilly terrain that's squeezed into a tight area bordered by the American Legion and a wooded area, making construction more difficult.
Plans call for making some of the same improvements that were made at South View this year, including replacing the flat roof with a sloped one, updating mechanical systems, installing energy-efficient windows and doors, converting commons areas into classrooms, painting the building, and building a cafetorium on the east side of the school just north of the gym. They also call for creating a two-story atrium between the gym and cafeteria, replacing the existing chair lift with an elevator and enlarging the east parking lot to create more spaces.
Henton said officials also want to cut windows into the gym, as they did at South View. He said the windows have brightened that gym and make it appear larger.
They also want to resurface the American Legion road after the renovations are complete. The road is owned by the veterans' group but used on a daily basis by buses to load and unload students, as well as other vehicles.
Henton added that at times, the road will have to be closed when cranes and other heavy equipment must be staged south of the building, and teachers will have to use the Legion's parking lot. He and Denman thanked the veterans for their understanding and cooperation.
The South View renovation, which started early this year, is almost finished except for the cafetorium, scheduled to wrap up in February. The district plans to do the third renovation project at East Park Elementary School in 2013.