More drama at the Avalon
In the construction world, a lot has changed in the 10 months since bids went out to remodel the Avalon Theatre.
In a word: costs.
After being told last summer that the project could be completed with all the amenities for $8.6 million — an amount later reduced to $8.2 million — Grand Junction city officials learned Monday that the full build-out cost has jumped to $9.65 million.
That means someone — the city or private donors — will have to come up with another $1.45 million.
Or, if city leaders decided, they could opt to come up with an additional nearly $500,000 for the project, though that would leave an unfinished mezzanine level and rooftop terrace.
It would also cost more to finish the project piecemeal if they opted to finish it at a later date.
Grand Junction city councilors on Monday decided to bring the issue up with the public during their next meeting March 5.
Costs for construction materials and original bid prices with contractors have shot up as the construction industry rebounds and workers find themselves more in demand, said Stan Kiser, a project manager with FCI Constructors, the general contractor on the Avalon.
He said FCI has kept its pricing down as much as possible.
“We’re very confident that we’ve gotten the price down as low as we’re going to get it,” Kiser told councilors. “It’s been as difficult a project as I’ve ever worked on.”
Councilors weren’t happy about hearing about another wrinkle in the Avalon’s first-phase remodel.
However, some councilors said they would rather see the project finished than be stuck with an unfinished product.
“All along I’m disappointed that we had broken down construction costs before we had financing,” said Councilor Barbara Traylor-Smith, who noted she was appointed to the board after councilors had approved the project. “It’s like building a house and letting it sit. That doesn’t make any sense either. At the end of the day if we have this building and it’s not built out, it’s not going to be useful.”
An unfinished mezzanine and rooftop terrace means the areas could not be rented out for events.
Not all councilors agreed they should go forward and consider throwing more money at the Avalon remodel.
Councilor Marty Chazen said the project was risky and tying up extra funds in the Avalon means money couldn’t go to other projects the city is working on, like economic development, streets, a new fire station and payments to Colorado Mesa University.
“We have other uses for this money,” Chazen said. “My position has been constant (about the Avalon). It’s not the project, it’s the financing.”
Councilors approved a $7.6 million project with the thinking that fundraising, grants and individual donations would get the project to the $8.6 million mark to finish the project. The contractor and architect on the project later dropped the price to $8.2 million.
The city chipped in $3.1 million; the Downtown Development Authority pitched in $3 million and the Avalon Theatre Foundation is responsible for $1.1 million. The city also received a $1 million grant from the Department of Local Affairs. The city said it currently has $8.3 million set aside for the project.