FLORENCE — In keeping with the promise to build a state of the art visitor center for less than $2 million, the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism board is poised to approve a bid for $1.7 million.
The new facility will be in McFarland Park at the current site of the golf pro shop.
During a meeting Monday, the board heard budget totals associated with the bid submitted by Parallax Building Systems, of Florence. Board members will take time to review the information and vote later this week on whether to accept the bid.
The bids ranged from $1.7 million to just more than $2 million.
"I'm well pleased with how the bids came in," said board member David Abramson. "We've got to exist within our means, and we know we've got some fundraising to do, but I'm pretty comfortable with this."
Project director Libby Jordan, who handles cultural tourism for the office, told board members there still are cuts that can be made to save money while not compromising the integrity of the project.
The group agreed that cutting space in the 7,500 square-foot building isn't desirable, but changes could be made in such areas as hardware and fixtures to reduce costs.
Total cost with no cuts is estimated at $2,413,378, which includes display costs at $513,955 and other extra costs at $146,623. The extras include remaining architect fees, a 7-foot aquarium, signage, furniture and computers.
Project architect Bob Whitten gave an overview of the project costs saying most areas are reasonable such as $233,000 for site preparation work, a significant aspect in the process as the property will be elevated about 2 feet above the flood plain. The heating and cooling quote was $169,000, which was expected. The electrical work was $270,800, which Whitten called "a little high" and said he'd attempt to negotiate the amount.
The board committed to borrow no more that $2 million from the city of Florence, to be paid back in no more than six years. Monthly payments will be about $10,000 toward the principal and after the first year an additional amount at the end of the remaining years of up to $300,000.
Loan repayment would begin in May.
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com.