Welcome Center goes overbudget

Megan Thorne
Construction of the Physical Activities Center (PAC) and the Fuquay Welcome Center are both in progress

Construction of the Fuquay Welcome Center is underway after bids ran over $700,000 over budget.

“Construction is good in our area,” Vice President for Finance and Administration Steve Bridges said. “When construction is good, the bids go up. There is a lot more demand for contractors and construction workers.”

The contractor for the Welcome Center is Empire Contractors, which is also the contractor undergoing construction for the PAC.

Ground broke for the Welcome Center in September of last year when construction was expected to begin. However, bids for the project were over budget and the university spent the remainder of the academic year working with the architects for the Welcome Center, DKGR Architects, to find ways to cut costs.

After numerous rebids, a bid of $3,076,950 was finally accepted in July. The bid comes well over the $2.3 million budget for the project.

Bridges said the extra money for the project will come from the Special Projects fund that is used to do improvements on campus. The rest of the budget comes from donations from the Fuquay family and Old National Bank.

All the major features that were in the original plans for the building, such as the green roof, will remain said Bridges.

“We are working to re-engineer where we can,” he said. “Looking at finishes and things like that that could help in the cost but not detract from what we are trying to accomplish with the building, that’s important to us.”

Bridges said he expects the Welcome Center to be completed by July of 2018.

“As much as anything, I’m happy to be able to deliver a project that has been long awaited for this campus,” he said. “Despite the challenges in finishing up the bid process, I’m confident that our vision of that building is what we need, so I’m very excited to be able to get to that.”

Phase I of PAC construction is expected to be completed by October of 2018.

“Things are on schedule. We have been fortunate to be able to have the manpower resources we needed for that building even though it’s a tough market.”

The funding for Phase II of the PAC was approved by the state legislature when it ended its session on April 29 of last year.

Bridges said bids for the project will not go out until after the Board of Trustees meeting Sept. 7, but he expects Empire’s bid to be accepted since they are currently working on Phase I.

The funds from the state will not be available until the second year of the biennial budget July 1, 2018.