Three local construction companies told the Delaware Area Career Center’s board of education Monday why they should be chosen to handle the $35 million renovation and expansion of its south campus.
Turner Construction Co., a national firm with offices in Columbus, went first. Its team of seven people told the board that any of the three firms can do the construction, but they were the best at communication. Vice president Brian Mooney compared the career center to touring the city. Turner’s projects have ranged from Huntington Park and Wendy’s corporate headquarters to Conger Elementary.
Elford Inc., which calls itself the largest central Ohio commercial construction company, talked about its long association with Delaware, including building Perkins Observatory and Selby Stadium. It had a team of nine people at its presentation, including vice president Eric Bull, who is on the Olentangy School District’s facilities committee. Staff said its projects include five career centers. “We really want this job,” said CEO Jim Smith.
Gilbane Building Co., a national firm with several local offices, gave what it called a four-dimensional schedule of the construction project. It had a team of six at the presentation. “Many of us live in Delaware County, so it’s personal to us that this project goes well,” said vice president Bob Sewell. Gilbane’s local projects include the Columbus airport, Franklin County Courthouse and a couple of buildings at Ohio State University.
Each company answered questions from the board in a meeting that lasted more than three hours.
“I think we had three strong candidates,” said DACC Superintendent Mary Beth Freeman. “The process may seem long, but we want to do this right. We want to take the time to be thoughtful and strategic. It’s more important than urgent.”
“All three companies mentioned involving the students,” said board President Julie Wagner-Feasel. “That’s important, because the engineers and construction managers are saying they need employees. Our kids in the pre-engineering or construction program are going to get a hands-on, real-life learning experience.”
The board members then individually ranked the companies, but made no decision. The DACC facilities committee will make a recommendation and the board will pick a firm at its meeting on Aug. 27.
“We’ll look at pricing, but it won’t be the only thing we’re looking at,” said Wagner-Feasel. “It’s got to be a relationship.”
The board has already picked design firm SHP as the architect. While it’s uncertain how the south campus will look, board members have some ideas.
“We’ve seen what New Albany did or the collaborative work space in the Olentangy Academy,” said Wagner-Feasel. “We want to see a lot of work spaces like that, because that’s what we’re seeing more and more in education. Kids are doing this project-based learning, so we want spaces where they can collaborate, and they can write on the dry-erase wall instead of a board. We have to build a lab like they are going to use in their job in the real world. Our welding lab up north is pretty new, so hopefully we can pull down a lot of the same stuff.
“We want it to be forward-thinking, because we don’t want to have to do this again,” Wagner-Feasel continued. “We can develop this for the next 50 years. This is a long and involved process, but the goal is to open this in August 2018.”
Earlier in 2015, career center officials announced the consolidation of its two campuses after a year-long study. It was decided to close the north campus at 1610 State Route 521 instead of spending $23 million in upgrades for both 40-year-old buildings. During the consolidation, no programs are expected to close. Officials said the board has not decided what it will do with the north campus once it closes, but it will continue to maintain the grounds.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.