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Council approves Carnegie bid

At long last, arts center to be restored

POSTED April 14, 2010 12:00 a.m.
In 2005, an arson fire destroyed Turlock’s Carnegie Arts Center. By the end of May, nearly five years after its destruction, ground will be broken on a new, expanded Carnegie Arts Center, following a unanimous Turlock City Council decision Tuesday evening.
Council awarded a $5.1 million bid for the reconstruction and expansion of the Carnegie Arts Center to EMJ Corporation of Sacramento. The project will add a new building with additional gallery space and multi-purpose rooms to host theatre, music and banquets, resulting in an 18,360 square-foot building that will host arts events almost every week of the year.
“This project has been in the works since I’ve been on council and we’ve come a long ways,” said Vice Mayor Kurt Spycher. “… I want to tell everyone who’s been involved with this, great job.”
The $5.1 million bid placed by EMJ is less than the $5.3 million leading bid Modesto’s Applegate Johnston Inc. submitted during a first round of bids in June. The council rejected that first wave of bids on Aug. 25, 2009, due to threatened litigation.
“In all my career I’ve never seen bids go down in rebids so this was a first,” City Engineer Mike Pitcock said. “And it’s a good one to be first on.”
According to the staff report, city staff received four complaints regarding the bid process for the first round of bids, suggesting it was not completed in accordance with certain aspects of the labor code. By rejecting that first round, the City of Turlock was actually able to proceed with the Carnegie more quickly, according to Councilwoman Amy Bublak, who argued Turlock would likely still be entangled in a lawsuit had council not made the contentious move to reject all bids.
“We actually have saved a tremendous amount of work and are able to go forward with this,” Bublak said.
EMJ is a 42-year-old company with offices in Chattanooga, Tenn., Boston, Mass., and Dallas, Texas, in addition to their Sacramento office. Locally, EMJ has previously been responsible for the Lowe’s in Los Banos and the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley in Manteca, containing Bass Pro Shops and a 16-screen movie theatre.
According to Phillip Augustino, EMJ senior vice president, 40 percent of the Carnegie Arts Center workforce will come from Stanislaus County. As much as 70 percent of workers will come from the Central Valley, Augustino said.
Turlock originally set aside $7.77 million to fund the project, based on a 2007 engineer’s estimate. The final project approved Tuesday will cost an estimated $6,690,720, including construction contingencies and an already paid $592,000 in design fees.
On top of the lower bid, the City will save an additional $300,000 over the August bid because construction management will be performed in house and the Carnegie Arts Center Foundation, who will lease and operate the facility, will provide furnishings.
The remaining costs will be funded by $949,000 in fire insurance dollars, $4.5 million in Turlock Redevelopment Agency financing, $1.7 million in Capital Facility Fees and $600,000 in community donations.
Those donations will only be used if construction costs exceed $7.1 million. Otherwise, the $600,000 will go to the Carnegie Arts Center Foundation for operation costs.
At the request of Councilman Ted Howze, at the end of construction the council will receive a full breakdown explaining from which funds money was expended.
Following the unanimous approval of the bid, spontaneous applause broke out from the near-full Yosemite Room at Turlock City Hall, cheering the end of the long, contentious process of rebuilding the Carnegie.
“Give yourselves a hand,” Mayor John Lazar said. “Congratulations everyone.”
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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