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.”