Tower Center at Unity Square bids get OK from City Council

The Bartlesville City Council voted Monday to accept bids for work on the Tower Center at Unity Square project. The vote comes after the committee tasked with oversight of the project design approved a recommendation for a modified design and bid package last week.

Funding for the project, which involves the construction of a community gathering space near Sixth Street and Dewey Avenue, was included in the $16.5 million 2018 General Obligation Bond approved by voters last year.

Following the election, the City Council created a committee to oversee design recommendations, and Ambler Architects was contracted to design the space while Jonesplan LLC was hired to assist in the design process and serve as general contractor on the project. Bids for the project were received by the City Council in May, as well as a contract with Jonesplan to serve as “construction manager as constructor without a guaranteed maximum price.”

“This form of contract designates Jonesplan as the general contractor and tasks them to solicit bids, in accordance with state law, and contract with the various sub-contractors based on bids received and accepted by the City Council,” said Water Utilities Director Terry Lauritsen, who is a certified engineer and serves as the project’s manager.

However, bids for the project came in over-budget, and work got underway to modify the scope of the project, Lauritsen said.

“Ambler’s design team, in conjunction with Jonesplan, reworked the scope of the project, coordinated with the various contractors to secure pricing for the modifications, and were able to get the project within budget,” he said. “These modifications were presented to the design review committee on June 26 and they unanimously recommended approval of the modifications and council acceptance of the bid award based on the modifications.”

Modifications include changes in the number of trees and less extensive landscaping than originally planned, as well as the elimination of a standing seam roof for the stage, which can be purchased and added later, Lauritsen said. Efforts are underway to pursue grant funding and donations that will allow items that have been removed from the project to be added back in.

“We have brought the project in under budget with some additional funding available, and as things go along — I think there are some additional grants that are being looked at — we should have some additional monies so we can add things back in,” said Vice Mayor Alan Gentges, who serves as the design committee’s co-chair, along with Ward 3 Councilor Jim Curd.

Voters approved $1.75 million in G.O. Bond funding for the project, and with the addition of grant funds from the Lyon Foundation ($250,000), Arvest Bank ($10,000) and the Parsons Foundation ($60,000), the available budget for the project is just over $2 million, Lauritsen said. Of that, nearly $421,000 has been allocated for design services, water line relocation, construction inspection and Jonesplan construction management/general condition fees for construction.

Bids for the project have been divided into seven associated trades: Restrooms, storage building and stage canopy; Demolition, earthwork and utilities; Paintings and coatings; Electrical and landscape lighting; Asphalt paving and curb and gutter; Site concrete; Landscape and irrigation. All were accepted by the council Monday with the exception of Electrical and landscape lighting, as Jonesplan was unable to secure basic electrical licensure information from the sub-contractor on the project.

“Due to the lack of licensure information to verify technical proficiency, staff recommends the bid from Phos Electric be rejected and this bid package re-advertised for bids,” Lauritsen said, noting the bid package value cannot exceed $266,705 for the project to remain in budget. He said bids for electrical work should be returned by July 24.

The updated cost of the project is currently $1.57 million, which is within the budget.

The space will include the following features:

  • A large multi-functional open lawn area on the west end of the space surrounded by trees and natural landscaped areas
  • A performance stage in the center of the space and an immediate lawn area to accommodate more than 400 people
  • A centralized location for food truck service
  • A centralized location for future interactive fountains and/or a public art feature
  • A more formal lawn area on the east end of the space adjacent to the BCC that retains and repairs the existing fountain
  • Natural rock, boulders and native grasses throughout the space
  • Restrooms
  • Storage facility

City Manager Mike Bailey commended Lauritsen, architect Scott Ambler and Jonesplan for their work to bring the project under budget.

“I have been very impressed with them,” Bailey said. “To essentially cut $350,000-plus from a project while still maintaining its integrity is pretty impressive.”

Bailey also said naming rights have been granted to two local organizations that have donated money for the project. The Lyon Foundation, which recently provided a $250,000 grant for the project, has been granted naming rights to the stage, while the Parsons Foundation, which has approved a $60,000 grant, will be given naming rights to the fountain. For more information, see story below.

“We have made other requests for donations as well and have received a lot of interest from organizations and individuals who would like to participate. So I am confident additional money will be available that will allow us to add some of these components back in and broaden the scope and vision for this project,” he said.

Water Utilities Department crews have been working at the site installing sewer lines and relocating water lines in the area, but this portion of the project should wrap up this month, Lauritsen said.

Demolition work is expected to get underway at the site in August and will take approximately 30 days to complete, after which construction can begin. Substantial completion is targeted for December of this year or January 2020, contingent on weather.