After reassessing project plans for the rehabilitation of the Dawn Theater, Hillsdale’s Tax Increment Finance Authority has received two construction bids closer to the City’s allotted budget.
TIFA’s Consultant Mary Wolfram said TIFA has also changed architect companies and is currently looking into using Gary W. Anderson Architects, who is working with C.L. Real Estate on the Keefer Hotel.
Brant Cohen ’18 is an associate for C.L. Real Estate LLC and said Gary W. Anderson Architects is quite useful and quite good at what they do.
“C.L. Real Estate has had a working relationship with Gary W. Anderson Architects,” Cohen said. “We trust them, we like them, and they do good work.”
Cohen said C.L. Real Estate worked with the City to see what could be changed in the project plans.
“We helped them change more creatively,” Cohen said. “We definitely had a hand in helping them get to a much more reasonable price.”
According to Wolfram the cost of the project has been reduced in three major areas: the lobby configuration, placement of the HVAC, and restoring the doors and windows in place.
“The new plan takes out the commercial kitchen,” Wolfram said. “And by removing that attempt to get a commercial kitchen in that lobby space, we basically reduced the scope of work by all of the demolition that had to happen.”
Wolfram said changes still need to be made to the lobby, including making it handicap accessible. The new plans include a small lift be put in place for people to use to go from the entrance of the theater to the lobby.
“Almost everything we’re doing is kind of keeping what’s there and fixing it in place instead of changing everything,” Wolfram said. “In some ways, I really feel like what we’re doing with the lobby is better because people remember it the way it is now, and they have a heart for it.”
The original architect company proposed moving the HVAC system from the south side of the building to the north side, which would required a great deal of cement work and increased the cost significantly.
The original plans also included putting all of the duct work in the roof of the building.
“What we’re thinking about doing now is bringing the ductwork in the base and running it underneath the building,” Wolfram said.
Initially, Wolfram said all of the windows and doors of the building were going to be removed, restored, and then reinstalled. Now, the doors and windows are going to just be restored in place, which will reduce the cost.
Wolfram said she is also hoping the construction firm that TIFA uses will help to reduce costs. “Once we get approval to move forward with this low bid contractor, they will have good ideas,” Wolfram said.
According to Wolfram, Foulke Construction submitted the low bid for the revised project plans.
“They’re very reputable firm,” Wolfram said. “They’ve done a lot of building for the college and everybody uses Foulke construction, so I’m very comfortable with that.”
Wolfram said TIFA will have to wait for its new project plans to be approved by Michigan Economic Development Corporation before it can officially move forward in making construction plans with Foulke Construction.
The City of Hillsdale’s Zoning Administrator Alan Beeker said TIFA will most likely go before the Michigan Strategic Fund – a board within MEDC – at the board’s April meeting to get the revised project plans approved.
“We probably won’t hear anything back from them until I’m thinking the beginning of May at the earliest,” Beeker said.
Beeker said if everything goes according to plan, he would expect construction to start at the end of May, beginning of June. The project, Beeker said, is expected to take 12 months to complete.
Cohen said he is confident that TIFA and C.L. Real Estate are moving in the right direction with the project at the Dawn Theater.
“This past week has been very promising,” Cohen said. “We expect that we can keep on this track of success so far.”