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Bids higher than thought

DEMOPOLIS – Architects working on renovations plans to the city’s old fire house opened bids from contractors Tuesday.

The building, originally built in 1843 as the Presbyterian Church, will house a welcome center and council chambers when the renovation is complete.

Two bidders, War Construction and N.C. Morgan, both of Tuscaloosa, turned in bids that were substantially higher than a grant approved by the state’s Historical Commission and the Alabama Dept. of Transportation.

The lowest bidder was War Construction with the lowest base bid of $768,700. N.C. Morgan bid $773,000 for the project.

The project was estimated to cost $320,400 in the grant application for a Transportation Enhancement Grant. That grant was approved for a federal share of $256,000 with a city match of $64,000.

In addition, an Alabama Cultural Resources Preservation Trust Fund Grant was approved by the Alabama Historical Commission for $25,000.

Brian Brooker, the project architect with Ellis Architects of Tuscaloosa, said the bid information would be presented to the city council for a decision about whether to scale back the project or move ahead with the bids as submitted.

“We’ll let the council determine the deductive alternatives in the order they occur,” he said.

According to City Clerk Vickie Taylor, fire department personnel have begun the process of transitioning from the old firehouse to the city-owned Gary Malone Building.