INDEPENDENCE — The Independence City Council unanimously voted Dec. 22 to award a $350,000 contract to GBC Construction to build a new museum.

The Corvallis company was the low bidder to construct a new facility at 281 South 2nd St. to replace the existing museum that is not ADA compliant. City Manager Tom Pessemier said in his report to the council that staff determined upgrading the existing museum would be too costly and reduce the functionality of the space. In addition, Pessemier said, the existing location is outside of the downtown core with limited visibility to visitors and is limited in its ability to integrate into downtown businesses.

The council on Oct. 8, 2019, approved the purchase of the property at 281 South 2nd St. for the future home of the Independence museum.

The city hired DECA Architects to design construction plans, which the city publicly advertised for a bidding permit Nov. 17 through Dec. 15.

The city received seven bids, with GBC Construction having the lowest qualifying bid of $294,865. In addition, the council approved three additional alternatives to the project:

$9,268 to install hard-shell drywall over the administrative and reception areas

$1,008 for a separate circuit for the IT equipment.

And no cost to raise the existing plumbing above the ceiling tiles.

Pessemier explained that the financial situation has changed for the project and initial estimates increased since 2019, including higher deferred maintenance costs on the existing building and increased construction prices. Staff had hoped to offset some of the construction costs through fundraising by the Independence Heritage Museum Society and proceeds from the sale of the old museum property. However, Pessemier said the society’s fundraising ability was curtailed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pessemier explained that while the project’s costs have gone up, so too has the value of the existing museum and anticipates the sale of the property, fundraising and additional grants will help offset much of the increases.  

“Staff anticipates a funding gap until the old museum is sold, which can be filled by a better than anticipated budget contingency,” Pessemier said. “We may even have a funding gap after that, but we won’t know until things are done. There is almost $400,000 from last year the city didn’t spend due to COVID, We’ll take it from there, and figure out the balance of costs later.”

In addition, the architect recommended a higher contingency due to the uncertainty related to the condition of the building. Therefore, the council approved a 15% contingency of $45,771 to bring the total award to construct the new museum to $350,912.

The construction phase is expected to be finished in the second quarter of 2021.

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