Cherry Hill Lane project will be rebid

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 6:30pm
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Facing the hard reality that the original specifications for the five houses proposed for the Cherry Hill Lane project can’t be built within their available budget, the members of the Housing Board plan to scale back and rebid the project.

Housing Board Chair Cindy Pappas said even though the plans for the homes will be revised, the core quality of the homes — windows, doors, heating systems and the like — will not be compromised, nor will the number of homes be scaled back. The plan calls for five homes: two two-bedroom homes, and three three-bedroom homes.

“Where are we with Cherry Hill Lane?” asked member Rosemary Tobin at the start of the discussion at their meeting on Monday, Nov. 26.

“We’re $800,000 short,” said Chair Cindy Pappas.

Connecticut Valley Homes, based in East Lyme, Connecticut, bid $2,623,970 for the five houses using a modular construction model. A bid by Zarrella Development Corp., based in East Greenwich, R.I., totaled $3,414,350 for infrastructure and buildings, using traditional on-site “stick-built” construction methods.

Pappas said that both bidders had been approached to see if the project could be scaled back enough to meet their budget requirements, but a revised plan submitted by one of the original bidders did not lower the costs enough to go with one of the original bids.

“We can whittle away but we’re still going to be short,” said Pappas. “We’re going to have to start fresh with this.”

“We can’t cut big numbers with small cuts,” said member John Spier.

After it was generally agreed that the project should be put out to bid again, Pappas asked: “what is it we’re putting out to bid?”

The group agreed that the project could be bid in two phases that may make the project more affordable and more appealing to contractors. One bid would be for the foundation and the other for the homes themselves. The members agreed that the new bid for the homes should perhaps simply ask contractors what they could build from their stock model inventories.

The Housing Board will use a combination of funds it has in their account, plus a bank loan that would be paid back from the sale of the five houses, to build the subdivision.

The Board has not previously identified an exact figure for the project, but Pappas told The Times that the Housing Board calculated that the budget for the project was based roughly on how much the Housing Board has in the bank ($450,000 now, which Pappas hopes will increase to about $500,000 when the project starts), and the sale price of the homes.

Pappas said they hoped to sell the three larger homes for $295,000 (for a total of $885,000) and the two smaller homes for about $210,000 ($410,000).

That would bring the expected budget of the project to $1.8 million, or about $800,000 less than the lowest original bid.