The Great Bend City Council Monday night approved a $10,000 contract with DMA Architects of Salina for the construction administration of the Events Center office complex remodeling project and, in correcting an earlier omission, ratified $35,000 is agreements with DMA for design services and bidding assistance for the work.
In April, the city council approved the project. Prior to that time, the city had engaged DMA Architects to provide construction drawings and specifications, as well as assistance with the bidding process. However, those agreements were never ratified, City Administrator Kendal Francis said. Then on awarding of the bid, the city needed to enter into an agreement for construction administration, but did not execute that agreement.
“We just recently realized the oversight,” he said.
The city is engaged in an over $500,000 renovation to a portion of the long-vacant office complex attached to the back of the city-owned center. Included in the renovation are 7,000 square feet on the office complex first floor, leaving 21,000 square feet in the remainder of the building.
This work includes the Great Bend Economic Development Inc. office, two 75-120 person breakout rooms to use with the center to bring in bigger conventions, and extra space for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Both Eco Devo and the CVB are already housed there.
But, Councilman Brock McPherson dubbed the project “a money pit,” and questioned what he thinks are continued surprise costs for the project. He was referring to the agreements approved Monday night, as well as to other expenses that have been incurred.
Indeed, the remodeling efforts have uncovered evidence of leaks in the roof. Francis said it was difficult to put a price tag on these repairs, but said it could be in the $30,000 range with the chance insurance could cover part of that.
“However, we’d have to fix the leaks regardless of the project,” he said. He noted it may have been a blessing to have the work being done since the problems may have otherwise gone undetected until the damage was more severe.
It is all part of regular upkeep of city property, Francis said. Some of the leakage could have been from past deferred maintenance of the building.
Nonetheless, “we have no choice,” he said. Neither the city staff nor the project contractor have the expertise to fix the roof.
Besides, Councilman Barry Bowers said, the city raised the money to purchase the facility. In June 2011, the council approved utilizing $500,000 donated by an anonymous group of local residents to purchase the convention center portion of the former Highland Hotel property.
So, all the city has had to do is maintain and repair the venue.
It may seem costly, and it is almost impossible to see a return on investment, CVB Director Christina Hayes said. But, the office area expansion will help the city lure larger conventions and events which will, in turn, benefit local motels and restaurants.