High costs delay $30 million, 63-acre Delaware construction project

Columbus Business First

Photo by Jane Hawes, Delaware County

DELAWARE, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST) –The redevelopment of the Delaware Area Career Center’s north campus is being put off because of high construction costs.

Delaware County commissioners recently voted to reject four bids for a general contractor to redevelop the 147,000-square-foot building and its 63-acre property along Rt. 521.

Instead, the county is rebidding the project under a different structure, which will delay the project by at least six months, said Jon Melvin, county facilities director.

The county has a budget of $30 million. The four bids received – from Elford Inc., Roberson Construction Services Inc., Cleveland Construction Inc., and Dunlop & Johnson Inc. – range from $35.6 million to $39.6 million, said county spokeswoman Jane Hawes.

Now, the county is seeking a construction manager at-risk, which allows Delaware to break the project into smaller bids and drive down some material costs, shorten the bidding time and recoup cost savings.

The county hopes to pick a construction manager by mid-June, start work in October and finish up in 2023, Melvin said.

“The project has kind of developed into a multiple-phase project with the different work that’s going on around (it),” Melvin said, noting that in the current market, some suppliers are holding prices for as little as five days. “A construction manager at-risk can (provide) a lot quicker turnaround.”

Some “value engineering” is expected, where contractors use less expensive materials and methods to control costs. “They’re still hungry for the work and they’ll still be competitive – this will allow them to compete … in smaller packages,” Melvin said.

When complete, the new Byxbe Campus will host 287 employees who work for Delaware County’s sheriff; engineer; regional sewer district; code compliance department; regional planning commission; soil and water conservation district; OSU extension. 

The county bought the building for $1.77 million in 2017.

Many developers have cited rising construction costs for delayed projects around Central Ohio.

Data released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last month showed 71% of construction contractors are facing materials shortages of wood, lumber, steel, pipe and other things.

“The timing was not good,” said Delaware County Administrator Mike Frommer. “The construction manager that gets selected will be very strong in the value engineering piece.”

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