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Bids for work come in under budget

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Bids for the courthouse project and renovating the former Safeway building have come in under budget, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors' property and public works committee was told Thursday.

Thirteen bids were submitted for the projects, which were bid together, said Jay Moore, of Moseley Architects.

"There's no demand for construction compared to what there normally is," he said.

The lowest combined bid -- $11.6 million -- came from Nielsen Builders Inc., which bid $8.4 million for the courthouse and $3.5 million for the Safeway building project.

The highest bid was $14.1 million for both projects.

"These bids are considerably below estimate," Moore said. "The estimates on the project budgets were developed before this market sort of turned south as a result of the recession."

District 6 Supervisor Conrad Helsley said the budget estimate for the courthouse was $14.2 million, and the estimate for converting the Safeway into a human services building housing social services, the health department and Northwestern Community Services was $4.5 million.

When the Board of Supervisors bought the old grocery store seven years ago for $585,000, the intent was to turn it into a courthouse.

It paid Moseley Architects $450,000 last year to do architectural and engineering work, and hazard abatement was estimated at $362,000.

Moore cautioned the committee that contractors will likely be aggressive with change orders due to their own thin margins. He also said his firm believes the market has bottomed out, and when an economic recovery is in full swing prices could go up sharply.

District 3 Supervisor David Ferguson and District 4 Supervisor Sharon Baroncelli asked if the projects must be done together to receive the bid price.

"I can't tell you that," Moore said, but said the bidders knew a second building might not be built.

The district courthouse must be built since the county is under a court order to solve overcrowded, dangerous conditions at the current courthouse, Helsley said.

Construction could begin as soon as 45 days, Moore said. It's expected the courthouse will take 390 days to build, and the human services building 330.

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