Avalon funding debated tonight

Grand Junction city councilors are asking the community to come out tonight and weigh in on an increase of $1.45 million needed to complete a first phase of the historic Avalon Theatre.

For sure, some of the costs associated with the increase are in line with a protracted process.

Contractor FCI Constructors was placed on hold by city councilors for months from beginning construction after winning the bid to renovate the Avalon. At the time, the company warned the city of Grand Junction overall costs would probably end up being 10 to 15 percent higher because of inflation, getting new bids from subcontractors and increases in construction material costs. Indeed, a completely built-out first phase now is pegged as costing about 12 percent more than planned. An original price tag of $8.6 million now is at $9.65 million.

Jay Valentine, internal services manager for the city of Grand Junction, said the city has been working with FCI to reduce some costs, for example using vinyl tile instead of wood in the lobby and finding much less expensive lighting than architects originally called for.

The city also has double-checked that the cost increases by FCI are on par with market conditions.

“We did do our due diligence to verify if these costs are accurate,” Valentine said, explaining than another local contractor admitted that they, too, would have had to charge more in a similar circumstance.

“They’ve been great,” Valentine said about FCI. “They probably have gotten a raw deal in this.”

If councilors approve a new contract for the full $9.65 million, the community will be getting more of a building than the city leaders originally approved. Councilors’ original approval for a $7.6 million project did not include a finished second floor and rooftop terrace. Councilors gauged that community funding could help pick up the tab to get those floors finished out.

The $9.65 million price tag will include finishing those floors, and the whole project is estimated for completion by October. Some areas of the Avalon still are slated for a June completion.

“The original contract is under budget and on time,” said City Manager Rich Englehart said. “This isn’t a runaway train here.”  City staff contends that having both floors open will increase the Avalon’s profitability for renting out the spaces. It also may more quickly lure a company or an individual to purchase naming rights of those areas and the whole theater, they said.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. tonight in councilor chambers.


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