School Board approves contractor for Hamilton-Holmes construction project

jojacobs@tidewaterreview.com

The Hamilton-Holmes Middle School project now has its contractor, and construction on the $13.2 million project is expected to begin next month.

Loughridge and Company, a Richmond-based construction company, placed the lowest bid to build the project, which will add new classrooms and a cafeteria, among other improvements, to the school, said Teran Mitchell of Ballou Justice Upton, the project’s architectural firm.

School Board members voted unanimously to approve the contractor at their meeting Nov. 14. Bryan Major abstained from the vote. Donald Longest was absent from the meeting.

Contractors’ bids came in lower than expected, meaning additional work could be added to the plan.

“There’s an opportunity to meet the needs for further improvements,” Mitchell said.

Loughridge and Company’s $10 million bid just edged out Southwood Building Systems’ bid by about $3,000. Harlan Construction Company placed a $10.2 million bid. The three companies were the only ones to place bids. The remaining price of the $13.2 million project includes project management, legal fees and other expenses.

One potential improvement could be a second set of doors at the school’s entrance to improve safety. The addition will channel visitors directly into the front office before entering the school itself, Mitchell said.

“I think adding the double entry at Hamilton-Holmes is something good to do,” School Board member Steven Tupponce said.

School Board members expressed interest in a proposal to improve the gym, specifically with better acoustics, new bleachers and renovated locker rooms.

“It definitely needs attention,” School Board member Lindsay Robinson said of the gym.

School Board members also voiced support for suggested improvements to the school’s facade, which would spruce up the appearance of the area where the new administration offices are planned to be built.

“It would prompt a better look and aesthetic for the school,” Mitchell said.

None of the potential improvements include cost estimates for construction at this time. Suggested improvements appear possible to build within the project’s initial construction budget, King William Superintendent David White said.

White told School Board members it would cost about $100,000 for design plans to be created for gym improvements, security improvements to the school entrance and a facade makeover during a special School Board meeting Friday.

Once the School Board makes a decision whether to pursue the additions, school officials intend to approach the Board of Supervisors with the idea this winter. Cost estimates will be determined before the board decides to include the additions in the project, White said.

Officials expect construction to begin in December and the bulk of the project is expected to be finished by January 2019, with final completion due several months after that, Mitchell said.

The new construction, which includes classrooms and specialized instruction space for science and art, was prompted by a rising student population at the school, which was built to house 450 students. The school will be able to accommodate 650 students once the construction project is completed.

There were about 550 students attending the school during the 2016-17 academic year, according to the Virginia Department of Education.

The project’s expanded cafeteria will permit more students to eat at a time. In the current cafeteria, students eat lunch in four groups, which will be reduced to three groups with the new facility. The existing cafeteria will be demolished.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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