WENATCHEE — After the lowest bid came in at $3.5 million more than was budgeted, a remodel of City Hall is being delayed.
The city had budgeted $7.8 million for construction. However, after the project went to bid in July, the lowest of five offers was over $11.3 million.
The City Council voted Thursday to reject all bids.
Mayor Frank Kuntz told the council that the city would probably have to wait until the second quarter next year to go out for bids again. COVID-19 appears to have had an impact on the process.
“You’re finding that labor costs are OK, but there’s no materials or material costs are off the chart,” Kuntz said.
The city is also facing a $1.5 million shortfall in sales tax revenue this year, he noted.
Wenatchee moved its City Hall operations into the old Federal Building at 301 Yakima St. in November 2018 after buying part of the building from LocalTel Communications. The council chambers are on the second floor and offices are on the third, though eventually staff will work on the main floor.
The city had outgrown its former headquarters at 129 S. Chelan Ave. It is remodeling that building for the U.S. General Services Administration, which will lease it on behalf of the Social Security Administration.
Facilities Manager Elisa Webb told the council that the project will be reevaluated to see if the scope and costs can be reduced.
“We recognize that going out for rebid will have additional cost implications,” she said. “We are evaluating these options right now.”
Kuntz said one high cost was for removing marble to install windows and then replacing some of the marble.
“The contractors were really nervous about that whole process,” he told the council. “Engineer thought that would cost $200,000. The lowest bid we had was $750,000 and some of them were well in excess of $1 million.”
They could install the windows elsewhere or use a different material instead of replacing the marble, he said.
“That would get that number back down to something more reasonable,” he said.
Another expense would have been for acoustic ceiling tiles to help absorb sound. The architect had included an option for wood finishing on the tiles, which Kuntz said could have been eliminated.
Reducing those costs still wouldn’t be enough to make up the difference between the budget and the lowest bid, though. Kuntz said the city will have to look at which parts of the remodel could be done and when.
“It’s going to have to get piecemealed, I think, at this point and we’re just trying to figure out the best way to make that happen,” he said.