The City of Columbus will open bids for the new downtown Commons Thursday, despite the fact final signature tallies on a remonstrance halting the building’s construction have yet to be released.
Mayor Fred Armstrong says the move is legal and early indications show the remonstrance will come out in favor of building the new structure.
Armstrong says he’s heard of eight to ten bids coming in from companies interested in the project. He expects the bids to come in well below the building’s estimated cost.
“This bid will not be anywhere close to $18 million because we haven’t got all the furnishes, fixtures, furniture, etc. in this particular bid package, although it’s there. This is just construction cost,” Armstrong said.
“If it comes in at 12 million dollars, people will say, ‘Oh! We saved six million dollars!’ No, we haven’t.”
Armstrong says construction costs are lower than when estimates on the Commons were initially made. He says the city may well spend less than $18 million, opening up the chance the city may use the left over money to pay other city debts or reduce the public’s tax burden on the project.
He says once idea being kicked around the mayor’s office is relieving a Parks and Recreation debt that could ultimately save the city money, especially in light of the public’s $9 million responsibility on the Commons.
“[With a] nine million dollar debt and a three million dollar debt, can we combine that to make a total of a nine million dollar debt. And reduce the debt service from the parks and get a great lower interest rate,” Armstrong said. “This is a lot to look at. And we’ll make sure it’ll come out at the end of the taxpayers at the end of the day.”
Private donors to the Commons have indicated they would like the city to consider returning some of their pledges to the project should construction costs dip below the original $18 million estimate. Armstrong says all pledges will go toward the Commons and will not be returned, as he says they were donated with no strings attached.
The city’s Board of Public Works will not award a bid on the project until late July.