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$59,156,818: County OKs final HHS price

Mark the date.

At 9:58 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners unanimously authorized the final contract approval for the Hendersonville High School construction/renovation work, a project that has been discussed for more than six years and survived one near-death experience.

Total cost of construction is $50,970,717, including the third guaranteed maximum price contract of $33,828,544 the board accepted on Wednesday. The work includes renovation of the historic Stillwell auditorium and core classroom building, a new classroom building and a new gym replacing the 1930s granite gym, which will be removed. Overall cost, including architectural and design fees, contingencies and other fees is $59,156,818 — $18,787 under the budget commissioners authorized.

Commissioner Michael Edney asked associate schools Superintendent John Bryant whether school officials are "100 percent satisfied with what is being presented today." Bryant said yes. The project is on track to be completed in time for the start of the school year in August 2023.

Some bids came in higher than projected and some lower, John Mitchell, the county's director of business and community development, said before the meeting. As it has done with all major capital projects, the county worked with architects and engineers to reduce costs where needed by adjusting materials and other features.

"There are a few things I would have done differently but I think we've got to leave it to our professionals to tell us what's appropriate through value engineering and what isn't," said Commissioner Bill Lapsley, a retired civil engineer. "I'm satisfied we're getting the project that was presented to us some time ago. Under the current economic condition I think we should all be pleased and satisfied that we were able to come in under the budget."

The overall contract is padded with enough money to address unforeseen complications, he added.

The general contract contingency is $1,642,000. "That's significant," Lapsley said. "That gives us a little breathing room. Then we have a second, owner's contingency of $1,466,247. So in a perfect world we've got a nice chunk of change to do things like the storm drain under the field."

The contract also shows a reduction in furniture and fixtures of around $450,000. "I want to be absolutely sure the School Board and the school staff is aware of that and supports that and feels comfortable," Lapsley said.

The fact that the project has come in $18,000 under budget (with the possibility of unused contingency left over when the last toilet paper dispenser is filled) "is significant," Board of Commissioners Chair Grady Hawkins said. "It's significant that a lot of the construction bids are local vendors in Henderson County and Buncombe and also any of the amount of money we don't use we don't borrow."

The project totals 180,468 square feet, including 91,400 square feet of new construction, the Stillwell renovation (68,166 square feet) and the Pardue gym renovation (20,902 square feet). The total price includes $48,833,344 in construction costs and $9,299,924 in soft costs, including $2,415,000 in design fees, $1,100,000 for inspections, $300,000 for permits, $3,517,141 in furniture, fixture, equipment and technology, $653,823 in design contingencies and $966,247 in owner's contingencies.