ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority board voted Wednesday to seek demolition-only bids on the historic downtown Albany Theatre renovation project as a way to save money on the project.
ADICA President Aaron Blair told the board uncertainty about the structural soundness of the building forced potential bidders to add to their bid costs to cover contingencies with the badly decaying structure.
"If we do demolition only in the building, expose the bare walls so that the contractors can see what they have to work with, we'll save a lot of money in the long run," Blair said. "If we complete the demolition by the end of the year, contractors will have a better idea of what they're dealing with and we'll be clearer on how we can market the building.
"And while I like to save all the buildings I can, I feel that we need to include demolition of the auditorium portion of the theater as well. That's where many of the questions (about structural integrity) come from."
Board member Tommy Gregors, who is director of the Thronateeska Heritage Center complex, said construction costs go up when contractors face unknowns about a structure.
"They put a lot of 'risk dollars' in their bids when they come across things like you see in the theater," Gregors said. "If we go ahead and bid out the demo first, we'll know what's there."
Blair said that, in talking with the project's architect, he'd become convinced that ADICA could save a considerable amount of money on the renovation by focusing first on demolition work on the North Jackson Street structure.
"I believe if we remove the surprise element, the project can move ahead more quickly," board member B.J. Fletcher said. "I'm 100 percent with (Blair) on this; it's the smartest move."
City/ADICA Attorney Nathan Davis said he's prepared a sealed bid packet on the downtown 125 College Drive skate park property that includes a June 17 bid cutoff date. Blair said he's been contacted by a number of parties interested in the park property, some of whom want to maintain it as a skate park.
Board member Charles Ochie asked Blair about plans to move the park if the property is purchased by someone interested in other uses.
"I've talked with Parks and Recreation, and they've indicated they have several parks we could move the skate park to if we want," Blair said.