BY JEFF CLARK
The Columbus City Council on Tuesday voted to hire Columbus native Major Andrews IV and his design company Major Design Studios to be the architect/designer for the upcoming renovations of the Trotter Convention Center. The board voted unanimously to hire Andrews after the firm of Bryan Brown and Associates withdrew their bid on the project.
The Trotter renovations will be the first under the direction of the city’s recently-hired project manager, J5/Broaddus. Robyn Eastman of J5/Broaddus was at the meeting to answer questions from the council on the architect.
“How much money are y’all going to save us on this?” asked Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box who, along with Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin, has been opposed to hiring a city project manager since it was announced July 2.
Eastman, whose firm will receive $90,000 from the city as well as six percent of construction fees as well as other expenses, wasted no time in responding to Box.
“Our whole fee, sir,” Eastman said. “We get six percent off the construction cost. We do not get fees off legal fees, architect fees and contingency fees.”
Eastman said J5 Broaddus will receive approximately $99,000 for the project.
Andrews will receive a flat fee of $80,00 for the design portion of the renovation.
On Tuesday, Eastman said he anxious to begin the project.
“I’m excited about working with Mr. Andrews,” Eastman said. “He is very talented not only at design, but he also knows how to build things.”
According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website, Andrews (Major Andrews IV) is also listed as the registered agent of T.I.P Development group, which has the same physical address at 1328 Shady St. as Major Construction Company.
As The Packet reported in June of this year, Major Construction had two contracts terminated by the the Clay County Board of Supervisors.
In 2012, Major Construction submitted the low bid for three HOME Project homes in Clay County. They gave up one of those earlier this year because they didn’t feel that they would be able to finish it in time. The other two homes soon came under board scrutiny in late April, when the 120 days allotted for the project were about to expire. Neither of them had been demolished, and it was clear that Major Construction would be unable to complete either of them on time.
On Wednesday, Andrews said the construction company was owned by his father. There is no listing with the SOS for Major Construction Co. in Columbus.
Eastman said Andrews will have 120 days in which to complete the design phase on the Trotter, which includes schematic design and detail design.
“During both phases, we will be doing some independent cost analysis to make sure the city doesn’t get a surprise when it’s time to accept bids,” Eastman said.
The project is budgeted at $1.65 million, which is slightly lower than the $2 million Mayor Robert Smith said it would cost when the project was announced in January.
“After we get the construction documents together, we will allow 45 days for the bid process, but it may take less time than that. We hope to have the project awarded by January 15, and then it should be completed by October 2014. However, if the city wants to do it in less time, we will have some alternate bid items in the contract to allow the contractor to show the city how much it would cost to have done in five months instead of nine months. Some members of the council want to get this done and some want to watch the money. It will cost more money to do it in less time.”
Although the project has been budgeted at $1.65 million, the city plans to borrow $2 million from the Mississippi Development Bank at the suggestion of government financial expert Steve Edds of the Jackson-based Baker Donelson. Edds discussed the issue with council at Tuesday’s meeting. He said he will have a plan ready for the council on September 12.
Columbus Light and Water will provide the city with $200,000 a year for 20 years from an in-lieu tax agreement between to fund the project and payback the loan.
When he announced the plans for the project in January, Smith said the money will be used for upgrading the restrooms and installing a new elevator from the Second Avenue North entrance, as well installing a new sound system and lighting. Exterior improvements include redoing copper awnings, installing restrooms in the courtyard, installing new benches and installing WIFI.