DOBSON — County officials approved almost $3.7 million for two renovation projects in the county seat this year.
The Board of Commissioners agreed to a little more than $1.8 million for the final work on the historic courthouse. The board also approved nearly $1.9 million to gut and restore the former Just Save/Lowes Food grocery story in front of the government building on East Atkins Street.
Don Mitchell, county facilities director, said six contractors submitted bids to work on the grocery store in Dobson Plaza. The sealed bids were opened on Dec. 8.
A Mount Airy company, Simcon, submitted the lowest bid of $1,799,950. That consisted of $1,723,950 for the base bid, then $60,000 as an alternate bid for additional roof insulation and $16,000 for the front facade EIFS (exterior insulation finishing system).
JG Coram Construction was second with a bid just less than $2 million.
Since the bid did come in significantly lower than the other bids, Mitchell suggested that the county set aside a contingency fund in case of unexpected problems. The board agreed to $75,000, putting the whole amount budgeted at about $1,875,00.
“If we don’t need it, don’t spend it,” Mitchell said of the contingency fund.
The Just Save space has 31,000 square feet, he said. This will be completely gutted, and work starts from scratch.
In addition to office spaces, the new center will include a spacious meeting room that will include two divider walls so that it can be split into three smaller meeting areas.
Something like this will be a good location for early voting, and certainly better than the bottom floor of the judicial center, he believed. The meeting room will be able to hold up to 300 people when fully open.
When the tax office moves into the building, there will be a drive-through window to pay taxes for convenience. People will only have to come inside for more complicated needs.
Some people have asked about the Hugh Chatham Express Care next door in Dobson Plaza, he mentioned. The medical center isn’t going anywhere as it recently renewed its lease for a five-year term.
Each of the bidders was informed that any work on site would not be allowed to interrupt the medical center’s ability to serve patients, he added.
A week later on Dec. 15, the sealed bids were opened for the courthouse work. There were four bids for this, with all four of them also involved in bidding on Just Save.
The low bid came from Hayco Construction of Pilot Mountain for the amount of $1,707,012. For the second time JG Coram came in second as its bid this time was for more than $1.89 million.
Again, with the low bid well under its competitors, Mitchell suggested a contingency fund. Considering the age of the courthouse, the board went higher than on Dobson Plaza and agreed to $100,000, bringing the total approved to about $1.8 million.
Work started on the courthouse in 1916, and the dedication ceremony came on Feb. 4, 1918, said Mitchell. The building is just a few weeks away from being a century old, so there are sure to be some unexpected problems to arise.
Mitchell said he believed there would be some sort of centennial anniversary for the courthouse, planned in conjunction with the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
The building consists of four levels: a basement and three floors.
The district attorney’s office has occupied the whole first floor, said Mitchell. The upper floors have held offices for such things as probation, juvenile justice and pretrial work; however, those top floors have already cleared out in anticipation of work.
Renovations will be concerned mostly with the first and second floors, he said. The basement level has the boiler and other mechanics, so there isn’t a lot of office space there. The elevator doesn’t go up to the third floor, so it isn’t handicap-accessible in compliance with today’s building standards. Instead, that top floor will be used for storage.
Two key issues for contractors is to properly handle two commonly used building materials now considered dangerous: lead-based paint and asbestos. That work was part of the bid requirements, said Mitchell.
For work where Hayco will need to bring in outside specialists, the contractor listed: Stanley Heating and Air, RD Graham for electrical, Mark Gentry for plumbing and Outdoor Enthusiast pressure washing.
Simcon listed its subcontractors as Piedmont Triad Mechanical, Chris Bryant Electrical and Steve Tate & Son plumbing.
Mitchell informed the board that he would schedule meetings with Simcon and Hayco before the end of the month, then work should begin in February.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.