Renovation and remodeling work on the former Rifle Creek Theatre in downtown Rifle could begin in a few months and be finished in October, according to a city architect.
At their Jan. 2 meeting, City Council approved a construction management services agreement with Johnson-Carter Architects of Rifle and an amendment to an agreement with Bighorn Consulting Engineers to allow that firm to also serve as a construction consultant. The total cost of the two agreements was $16,500.
At a workshop before the meeting, Rich Carter, who also serves as a city councilman but has removed himself from voting on events center-related issues, said his firm expects to solicit bids from a list of five or six prequalified and experienced contractors.
"I think by the end of February or maybe early March, we can have a contractor on board," Carter said. "I think the project will take about five to seven months, so sometime around October, I'd expect you could have a grand opening."
Some councilmembers were unsure the city should proceed with the events center project in the current economy, and with work on a new $25 million water treatment plant also getting underway.
"I think we might want to wait until we get the bids on the water plant," said Mayor Jay Miller. "We're using reserves for [the events center], so I want to be very cautious."
City Manager John Hier said preliminary year-end figures on city sales tax revenues should be available early next month, and bids on the water plant are planned to be sought by the end of February.
Carter said there would be no harm in the city seeking bids for the events center at the same time.
"You're not making any commitment until you accept a bid, and we can
specify the bids are good for 90 days," he said.
Councilman Keith Lambert was also cautious, and warned the economy could head into another recession if elected officials in Washington "continue to do what they've been doing."
"As much as I support this project, it causes me anguish to put our resources out there now when we don't know what might happen," Lambert added. "If we have no fiscal commitment until we have some other numbers that give us a better idea of where we're at, I'd feel a little better about doing some preparation work."
The city plans to use $1.24 million from the capital reserve fund, plus federal mineral leasing funds, $428,000 in grants and close to $314,000 in other city funds to finish the $1.9 million renovation and remodeling of the center.
The 1940s-era building has been closed since August 2012. The city acquired it and agreed to let the New Ute Theatre Society, or NUTS non-profit group promote plans to reopen it as an events center.
The group also wants a formal agreement with the city, said NUTS President Helen Rogers.
"We have some ideas, such as hiring an executive director," Rogers said. "We would still oversee the operational fundraising, but we need an agreement in writing."
Hier said such an agreement should be on the city council's next agenda.
"You don't have to put anything out to bid until you're satisfied the city is financially able to take it on," Hier later told council during their meeting.
Under the construction management services contract with the city, Johnson-Carter Architects will provide all oversight from bidding to final renovation of the building.
Johnson-Carter Architects will provide bid and negotiation services for the selection of a general contractor over an expected two months and construction administration services to the city for the duration of construction for an estimated eight months.
The company's proposal includes a clause that states if the project is put on hold by the city for more than 30 days, the city must pay Johnson-Carter a start up fee of eight percent of the contracted amount.
Since the firm is the "architect of record," and have already done some design work on the project, Hier said it made sense to work with the company as a "sole source" for procurement purposes.
The city had previously hired three firms to develop the renovation plan: D.L. Adams Associates for acoustics design, Kaup Engineering for structural design and Bighorn Consulting Engineers for mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering.
Those firms, except Bighorn, had included construction consulting in their original agreements with the city. Bighorn proposed to include this service for an additional $2,500. Hier called those fees "reasonable" and recommended acceptance of both proposals.