Wednesday, April 23, 2014
By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling firstname.lastname@example.org
FAIRFIELD -- Contractor bids on the redevelopment of the historic Gerald Hotel were opened on Wednesday but a deal has not yet been struck with a bidder.
The Gerald Hotel in Fairfield is the subject of a $6.4 million renovation project by the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program.
Staff file photo
Meanwhile, calls have started coming in from area residents interested in moving in next fall, when the $6.4 million project to transform the structure into residential housing for low-income seniors is scheduled for completion.
Bids on about $4 million in renovation work from five Maine companies were opened on Wednesday but Suzanne Walsh, chief operating officer of the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, the eventual owner of the hotel, said project developers are still negotiating the terms.
The complicated bid has about 10 alternative add-ons, which could mean that the company with the apparent low bid could actually be more expensive that the second-lowest bidder for the scenario that is decided upon, Walsh said.
The budget for the entire project is $6.4 million, which includes about $600,000 to buy the building and about $4 million in renovation costs, with the balance going to a variety of soft costs, such as financing expenses, according to David Gilpatrick, director of energy and housing for the community action program.
Gilpatrick said that the bids were right in the ballpark of the predicted project costs.
The current delay to negotiate the contract and a previous delay caused by scheduling problems have pushed the hoped-for closing date to Nov. 12, about a month later than was projected by developers in August.
With an anticipated 10-month construction period, Gilpatrick said the project is still on target to be completed without jeopardizing funding.
Some of the funding, from tax credits, is contingent on developers being able to fully lease out the space to renters by early 2014, he said.
Gilpatrick said that a few people have already called to inquire about living in one of the 28 units that will be built in the hotel.
He said it's too early to start filling out the paperwork for prospective residents, but he is keeping a list of names and phone numbers to contact as a move-in date gets closer next fall.
One call came from a person who could no longer maintain a house anymore, which is exactly the type of person that the community action group hopes to serve, Walsh said.
"Our mission has historically been to reduce or eliminate poverty and the conditions of poverty," she said. "A lot of elderly people might live in their own home and they're looking to downsize. Maine has one of the oldest housing stocks in the country. Their homes are hard to heat. The calls we're getting are from people looking to live in a relatively maintenance-free, cost-effective and high-quality home."
Walsh said that, while no formal papers have been signed, C & C Realty Management, an Augusta-based firm, will manage the property.
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling -- 861-9287