The B. B. King Museum Board of Directors is paying the cost to be the boss for the Downtown Streetscape Improvement and B. B. King Gravesite project, although it was questionable after reviewing the submitted bids at Monday night’s Indianola Board of Aldermen meeting, as to whether or not the long-awaited project would even move forward.
The city leaders voted to take the three construction bids under advisement after each one came in over the engineer’s estimate for the project. City Engineer Ron Cassada opened proposed bid packets during the session and the base bids ranged from just under $500,000 to as much as $1.2 million over the budgeted amount.
However, after conferring with the museum staff and board, Cassada reported on Tuesday that the museum decided to pay the additional $475,000 needed to award the project to the lowest bidder.
The next step is to get city officials to hold a special call meeting to accept the bid.
Malika Polk-Lee, Director, B. B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center said, “We look forward to breaking ground on the final phase of our Memorial Courtyard Project that will give Mr. King a final resting place befitting his iconic status. In addition, we will soon begin work on the Museum expansion that will explore the final chapter of his life through new films and more of Mr. King's memorabilia including personal vehicles and a tour bus. These will help tell the story of the key role transportation played in helping Mr. King reach audiences nationwide.”
Flagstar Construction of Brandon, David Smith Construction of Inverness and Mike Rozier Construction of Carrollton submitted cost estimates for the project although Cassada said initially only one company picked up bid specifications for the job, which resulted in them seeking out two other proposals.
The base-bid amounts are $2,703,713.80, $1,929,435 and $2,367,173.60 respectively. David Smith Construction submitted the apparent lowest bid; however, it was nearly $500,000 over the engineer’s base estimate.
The $1.6 million grant was awarded to the City of Indianola a by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and according to Cassada, this Transportation Alternative Projects grant provides federal money that can only be used for transportation-related items such as sidewalks and landscaping, but not roads and streets.
The funding was awarded to the city and the city had only planned to use a small portion of the 80/20-match grant for sidewalk improvements and such.
However, since the museum was in the area to be worked on, MDOT allowed the work at the museum to be included in the grant.
The city will receive $100,000 from the $1.6 million and their portion of the outlay will be $20,000 for the sidewalks and crosswalks. The museum has a Memorandum of Agreement with the city to use the remaining $1.5 million for its projects and will have to pay a 20 percent match for that as well as the additional money.
The full scope of the $1.6 million project, which came in at just over $1.9 million, includes the construction of the memorial gravesite area for the late blues singer, a 5,000 square foot building between the museum and the AT&T Learning Center to house his bus and cars exhibit plus landscaping and upgrading the sidewalks and crosswalks along Depot Avenue and Main Street near the fire station and Betty’s Place.
One of the factors that affected the overall cost of the project was the price of the building to house the vehicles. Smith Construction’s cost for the stand-alone building was about $675,000 over the original estimate, more than double the $600,000 the engineers had allocated.
Cassada said the other two contractor’s prices were nearly $1 million over the estimate for that structure.
He surmised that the price difference from the original was likely due to the cost of certain materials and other add-ons plus a possible upswing in construction in the area.
In addition to the base bid amounts, the contractors were also asked to present prices on a list of extras for the entire project just in case there were funds left; however, Cassada said they were non-essentials and mostly for esthetic purposes.