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TIFA is in the process of col­lecting bids for the Dawn Theater project. Collegian|Julia Mullins

The City of Hillsdale Tax Increment Finance Authority is cur­rently accepting con­struction bids for the Dawn Theater Reha­bil­i­tation and Blight Elim­i­nation project. They have extended the deadline until Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 2 p.m.

“We’re just chomping at the bit now to get this project going,” Hillsdale’s TIFA con­sultant Mary Wolfram said.

According to Wolfram, TIFA held a pre-bid walk­through for potential con­tractors to come and walk through the building and other sub­con­tractors have come back through the building for addi­tional tours.

“We’re getting bids from general con­tractors who oversee the job and they are usually from a bigger firm,” Wolfram said. “The general con­tractor then sub­con­tracts out all the pieces.”

TIFA will be taking into con­sid­er­ation the price and quality of the con­tractor.

“Typ­i­cally one looks for the low bid, but there’s due-dili­gence that you do to make sure that the con­tractor who is bidding is capable of doing the project,” Wolfram said. “There’s a real quality com­ponent that you look into the bidder’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Hillsdale’s Zoning Admin­is­trator Alan Beeker said he is expecting TIFA will receive four bids.

“We’ve had four con­tractors who have been con­sis­tently calling with RFIs, which are requests for infor­mation,” Beeker said. “That gives us a pretty good indi­cation of their intent on sub­mitting a price.”

Wolfram said the Michigan Eco­nomic Devel­opment Cor­po­ration has given the City of Hillsdale a letter of interest offering a grant of $1.3 million in funds based on pre­lim­inary esti­mates of work to be com­pleted in the Dawn Theater.

“We are hoping that the bids come in at $1.3 million or less,” Wolfram said. “If they don’t, we will have to cut some of the work.”

Both Wolfram and Beeker said they antic­ipate there will be value engi­neering involved in the project.

“We look at the price that is orig­i­nally sub­mitted in the bid and then what our budget is,” Beeker said. “If there’s a large dis­parity, we will look at where we can cut costs to meet our budget.”

In addition to TIFA, Wolfram said the archi­tecture team working on the project, Hard­lines Design Company out of Columbus, Ohio, will also review the bids to ensure the bids meet all of the nec­essary qual­i­fi­ca­tions and include a bid bond.

According to Wolfram, a bid bond is a guar­antee from a bonding agency that guar­antees a contractor’s bid is good for a certain number of days.

Although TIFA owns the Dawn Theater, C.L Real Estate out of Peru, Illinois is the project developer. Brant Cohen ’18, an asso­ciate for C.L. Real Estate LLC, said C.L Real Estate will also assist TIFA in reviewing and under­standing the bids.

“We can go in-depth by con­tacting the bid con­tractors, working with them, and  making sure they have all the nec­essary qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the job,” Cohen said. “We are going to help TIFA identify the best people to do the best work.”

According to Wolfram, the Dawn theater first opened Sept. 5 1919.

“We had ini­tially hoped we could open for the cen­tennial, but that’s not going to happen,” Wolfram said. “I’m hoping we have sig­nif­icant progress in the con­struction by the end of 2019 so we can at least say we’ve opened.”

Wolfram said she is hoping the con­struction progress is far enough along by Sep­tember 2019 to hold a hard hat tour where com­munity members could walk through the par­tially ren­o­vated building.

Cohen said C.L. Real Estate is excited to be moving toward the con­struction phase of the Dawn Theater project.

“This is a really good sign we’re at this point in the project,” Cohen said. “This should be a really good sign for everybody in the com­munity that the city is truly going to follow through with this to the best of their ability.”