Auditorium construction could start Aug. 27

Knost to ask board to approve contract with architectural firm

By Kari Williams

Mehlville Superintendent Eric Knost plans to present a proposed construction time line for the recently approved districtwide auditorium to the Board of Education when it meets today — Feb. 9.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Administration Building, 3120 Lemay Ferry Road.

The original idea was for the auditorium to be in a renovated portion of the Witzel Learning Center, but as ideas progressed, Knost said the project was becoming more a demolition project than a renovation project.

The project, which the school board approved in January, is for the auditorium to be constructed on the north side of Mehlville Senior High School. The total projected cost of the 525-seat auditorium is $5,817,190.

The cost for building construction is estimated at $4,227,900, with professional fees and miscellaneous costs comprising the remaining $1,589,290.

The proposed budget is $6 million, and the project is projected to come in $182,810 under budget. The excess project funds will go toward renovations to the Witzel Learning Center, according to Knost.

As proposed, construction of the roughly 22,700-square-foot auditorium will begin Aug. 27 and take about one year to complete. The schedule begins with a project kickoff meeting that occurred Dec. 16 and ends with completed construction slated for Aug. 1, 2013.

Besides seeking approval of the time line, Knost planned to ask the board to approve an agreement with Dickinson Hussman Architects, or DHA, for the project.

As proposed, DHA’s services will include architecture and interior design; civil engineering; structural engineering; mechanical/electrical/plumbing and fire protection engineering; theater consulting; acoustical consulting; and building code consulting.

The cost of the firm’s services are projected to total 10 percent of the construction budget, or $427,290.

As proposed, the auditorium project would be funded by utilizing savings realized through the refunding of certificates of participation, or COPs, issued for the district’s Proposition P districtwide building improvement program. Prop P was approved by voters in November 2000. No additional funds will be required from the community at this time, according to Knost.

COPs issued in 2001 by the district were refunded in 2010 with a savings of roughly $2.2 million over 10 years and COPs issued in 2002 were refunded last year with a long-term savings of about $1.1 million.

A third refunding with a projected savings of about $2.6 million is anticipated sometime this year, according to Chief Financial Officer Noel Knobloch.

The school district is anticipating a total savings of nearly $6 million from the three refundings.

Constructing the auditorium will allow the district to take advantage of low interest rates by issuing additional COPs to fund facility needs and historically low construction costs, according to the superintendent.

In a separate matter today, Knost plans to announce that Requests for Qualifications were sent out for engineers for the construction of a tennis court complex at Bernard Middle School.

The $450,000 project was approved in December and will have eight courts for districtwide and community use.

“We’ll announce what engineer we’re going with, in the superintendent’s report, which will really ramp that up a lot because they’ll start putting plans together, and we should have plans for that pretty quick after that,” Knost told the Call.