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TIFA receives bids over budget for the Dawn Theater project. Collegian|Julia Mullins

After receiving three con­struction bids over the City’s allotted  budget, Hillsdale’s Tax Increment Finance Authority is reassessing project plans for reha­bil­i­tation on the Dawn Theater.

TIFA received a $1.3 million grant from the Michigan Eco­nomic Devel­opment Cor­po­ration to com­plete the project, and TIFA had passed a res­o­lution that stated it was willing to help with any over­tures up to $1.5 million. The lowest bid, however, was more than $600,000 over budget.

According to TIFA’s con­sultant Mary Wolfram, First Con­tracting Inc. sub­mitted the lowest bid of $1,917,435, Foulke Con­struction sub­mitted a bid of $2,145,000, and Elzinga-Volkers sub­mitted a bid of $2,321,194.

“It’s not an odd thing for bids to come in high and for people to have to nego­tiate what’s gonna be in the project or what can be done later,” Wolfram said. “It’s a reality. Con­struction projects typ­i­cally come in over budget.”

Hillsdale’s zoning admin­is­trator Alan Beeker said MEDC has requested that TIFA approach the three con­tractors explaining that they are all over budget.

“We are changing the scope of the work to reduce the cost and then inviting the con­tractors to look at the prices and see if they can meet the pro­posed budget,” Beeker said.  

Wolfram said TIFA will be looking closely at the project spec­i­fi­ca­tions to see what it can elim­inate from the original plan.

“We need to see what things we could live without,” Wolfram said. “More than likely, it will be things we could perhaps do at some later stage, once we’ve raised the money to do them.”

In addition to changing the scope of the project, Wolfram said it has become very clear that TIFA will have to do more fundraising to cover the cost of the project.

“We are now con­sid­ering fundraising options, which may include a kind of GoFundMe Program for public spaces that MEDC actually pro­vides up to a $50,000 match,” Wolfram said.

Wolfram said she is still hopeful about nego­ti­a­tions with the con­tractors.

“This is just how it’s playing out, it is what it is,” Wolfram said. “Real estate deals are hard.”