DDA Okays Campau's Higher Cost

September 10, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — Although the project is going to cost more than the original estimate, members of the Downtown Development Authority agreed Wednesday to fund the reconstruction of the Louis Campau Promenade.

Mayor George Heartwell said the promenade, which runs between Monroe and Campau avenues, is an important walkway that leads pedestrians from downtown’s core near Rosa Parks Circle to the front door of the new JW Marriott Hotel.

Even though the DDA had set aside $800,000 for the work, board members learned last week that construction will cost $1.25 million. The DDA had planned to have the project done last year. But with all the construction that was going on Campau Avenue for the new hotel and its parking ramp, the board elected to put the work off until this year.

“The project has grown over time and the budget is somewhat higher than what we expected,” said Jay Fowler, DDA executive director.

Cost increases for construction materials, the addition of a snowmelt system for Monroe Avenue, and the purchase of boilers to operate the snowmelt on Campau Avenue were given as reasons for the higher tab.

“You’ve got a lot of intricate details here,” said City Engineer Marc DeClercq. “We’re seeing a big jump in asphalt, concrete and cement prices.”

Wes Steer, a principal with OCBA Architecture, the firm that designed the project, said the bids the city received for the work were about $200,000 higher than expected. He said labor costs were underestimated in the original estimate.

Wyoming Excavators Inc. submitted the lowest bid of $905,000. Design, administration, contingencies and other items raised the project’s total to $1.25 million. But the DDA has an agreement with the owners of the Campau Square Plaza Building. They will reimburse the board $200,000 for the work that will be done on their portion of the plaza, a payment that will lower the DDA’s cost to $1.05 million, or $200,000 higher than the initial estimate.

In addition to the snowmelt systems, the work calls for longer-lasting brick pavers to be installed over a concrete base. New planters, benches and ornamental lighting are going in and new landscaping is planned for next spring. Work will start soon.

“We will get substantial completion this fall,” said Fowler, “and the snowmelt system will be operational this winter.”  

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