Cost more than tripled for proposed county building project

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The latest estimates for a new joint social services and county office building on Callohill Drive in Nelson County are about four times higher than February estimates.

PMA Architecture and civil engineering firm, The Timmons Group, delivered a report to the Nelson County Board of Supervisors on November 7 that could force the county to make tough decisions about how to scale back the project.

Supervisors saw preliminary designs for the installation, created by Lynchburg-based Architectural Partners, in February. Architectural Partners provided two concepts for a joint social services and county office building with different total square footage, which were later estimated at $3.13 million and $3.24 million.

PMA Architecture was commissioned by the county to plan and design the proposed facility, and returned to council on November 7 with estimates that nearly quadrupled the figures provided by Architectural Partners: $10.5 million for the development of the site and construction of a building just for the social services department and $12.6 million for a joint facility of social services and county offices.

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Several factors contribute to price variation. First, Architectural Partners’ plans called for a common facility of 9,100 square feet or 9,600 square feet; while PMA estimates are based on a single 9,188 square foot social services facility, valued at $10.4 million, and a 13,854 square foot joint facility, valued at $12.6 million.

The PMA’s lead architect, Jeff Stodgill, told supervisors the firm had met with leaders from the Department of Social Services as well as the Department of Planning and Zoning and the Department of Building Inspections to identify their building needs. space.

“At this meeting, we tried to understand what a day in the life of department heads looks like,” said Cara Adams, interior designer and PMA project manager.

She explained to supervisors how she had taken the department heads’ current headcounts and their projections of staffing needs over the next five and ten years, and multiplied them by typical modular office layouts to arrive at the square footage. square feet required by the departments.

Beyond the new square footage requirements, Stodghill and Timmons Group civil engineer Bruce McCloy recognized a number of factors that made the project significantly more expensive.

The proposed 16.6 acre site at Callohill Drive has land that could prove difficult to develop. McCloy said there was a significant difference in elevation between the west and east ends of the plot, as the terrain rises from Callohill Drive.

“From what we can tell from the adjacent Food Lion site and the slope on the road, we believe there is a good amount of rock, and it could be close to the surface,” he said. said, adding based on other work he has done in the area, he thinks the rock could be hard and dense. Site development may then involve excavation, blasting or the use of fill. PMA and Timmons Group estimates include a contingency of approximately $1 million for unforeseen costs.

McCloy said the current gravel road beyond the Food Lion will need to be paved. Other conditions are more promising: existing water, sewer and electrical services are available near the site, and a level plateau around the middle of the site has been determined to be the most suitable for development , according to Stodgill.

Stodgill said PMA also requested a review of secondary costs from Warrenton’s construction management services firm, Downey & Scott. A Downey & Scott narrative was provided in the supervisors’ meeting file along with the company’s line-by-line costing of the project.

“I have worked in the regional construction industry for over 40 years and in my career I have witnessed four major recessions in the construction industry. I have also experienced several years of relative price stability and strong economic growth with modest inflation. The current market is the most difficult market to predict costs that I have experienced in my entire career,” wrote William Downey, Principal of Downey & Scott.

Downey cited COVID-19, rapid increases in energy prices and the war in Ukraine as having contributed to “the upward price spiral that has occurred”.

“The supply chain is not fully functioning. There’s a shortage of goods, there’s a shortage of people and every time you have that shortage, you’re going to see costs go up,” Stodgill said.

“Currently we are looking at trying to get an update on our new debt capacity against the new interest rates and I think that will be a determining factor if we are going to do the additional planning and zoning and construction department,” Board Chairman Jesse Rutherford said after the presentation. The county has invested enough capital to acquire $57 million in debt capacity. To date, $2.6 million dollars of this debt capacity was used to purchase another property near the high school and college complex that is slated for county development.

The council eventually agreed to proceed with the next phase of work on the project, a geotechnical soil investigation to better understand the subsurface conditions.

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