TIFA receives two bids closer to budget for the Dawn Theater project. Collegian|Julia Mullins

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.”