By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The city on Thursday opened bids from seven companies hoping to construct Tupelo’s new aquatic center after the first round of bids had been rejected.
The latest proposals, opened at City Hall, ranged from $10.1 million to $10.7 million. That’s 25-30 percent lower than earlier numbers.
Project architect Joey Henderson of JBHM requested qualifications from the three lowest bidders – Panola Construction, Jesco and Zellner Construction – by today. If none of them meet the requirements, the other three bidders will be asked to provide theirs, Henderson said.
The “lowest and best bid” will be submitted to the City Council for approval, likely in August.
It’s the second time Tupelo officials have opened bids on the project, which will put a 45,000-square-foot indoor swimming complex at Veterans Park. The first round had been rejected two months ago because all six bidders exceeded the city’s budget by at least $1.4 million.
Officials had estimated it would cost $11.3 million to build the pool, but the first bids came in between $13.4 million to $15.2 million. Most of the initial companies bid again during the second round.
The city was able to reduce project costs by modifying the plans. It removed square-footage from the commons area and eliminated the high dive, which lowered the ceiling height. It also maximized the pool filtration system, said Tupelo Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis.
“The bids are really close to each other,” Lewis said after the meeting. “I think the contractors have gotten their numbers and concentrated on trying to get us a good price.”
If the council accepts the recommended bid, construction could start by fall and last about 14 months.
Plans call for a sprawling complex with one Olympic-size pool and one smaller pool for fitness or instruction classes. It also calls for spectator seating, locker rooms, rest rooms, offices, a multipurpose room, kitchen, lobby and an outdoor area for sunbathing and a splash pad.
It would serve both casual and competitive swimmers and generate $407,000 in annual revenues, plus an additional $3.2 million in local economic impact, consultants said.