Bids taken under advisement for Chimney Square

Published 12:53 am Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bids were taken under advisement for the reconstruction of the Chimney Square building to house county offices in Picayune.

Chimney Square used to house the county offices for residents who live in the Picayune area, such as tax, driver’s license and other county offices before Hurricane Katrina damage forced the county to tear it down.

Ten bids were opened Wednesday afternoon by the Pearl River County board of supervisors, ranging from a high of $5.8 million to a low of $4.6 million. The lowest bid will be confirmed and evaluated at the next board meeting, scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m.

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Construction of the new two-story building is expected to begin sometime in February 2009 in the same location as the old building, across Goodyear Boulevard from Margaret Reed Crosby Library. The building’s 24,000 square feet of space will house the same offices as the old building did and some others, said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin.

At the very least, the building will house the county’s tax, circuit clerk, chancery clerk and Sheriff’s Department offices on the second floor. On the first floor will be the planning and E-911 and the Mississippi Department of Transportation Driver’s License offices, Lumpkin said.

The second floor also will house two courtrooms, one with a jury box and judge’s chambers and another without those amenities. Lumpkin said those rooms are not designated for any certain court but will be used as needed.

Katrina Community Development Block Grant funds and Federal Emergency Management Agency grant funds will pay for 100 percent of the cost to build the new Chimney Square building, Lumpkin said.

Construction of the building was projected to cost about $5.1 million. The lowest bid turned in Wednesday came from Jay Van Company, based in Hattiesburg, at $4.6 million. The highest bid came in from Shannon, Stroebel, Weaver based in Auburn, Ala. at $5.88 million.

A platform for a generator was bid separately from construction of the building. Jay Van Construction’s bid was $121,000.

About 18 months has been scheduled to construct the building and the plans have been approved by both FEMA and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, Lumpkin said.

“We are as anxious as anybody to see it done,” said District IV Supervisor J. Patrick Lee.

With the cost of construction on the decline, the board may find extra money to put towards construction of a Department of Human Services building in Millard, close to the jail. A year ago the estimated cost to build Chimney Square was about $215 to $220 a square foot. Today the cost will be about $190.38 a square foot, Lumpkin said. That change will save the county about $609,000 in construction costs.

Lumpkin said besides the money left over from the construction of Chimney Square. some CDBG funds and possibly a match from the county will be used to construct the DHS building.