Bayonne is once again seeking bids to renovate the former Holy Family Academy. The city council has authorized the project to be sent out for bid for the fourth time.
The former Catholic school is slated to become the new headquarters of the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation (BEOF) and a new location for the city’s Head Start program, for low-income and special needs preschool students, ages 3 to 5.
The school closed in 2013 due to declining enrollment and financial issues. It’s been vacant ever since. In 2017, the city purchased the property for $2.5 million with the intention of moving the BEOF from its current multiple properties to one location.
The BEOF headquarters will be relocated to the former Holy Family convent. The Head Start program will be in the former school itself. While the interior of the building will be renovated, the façade will remain the same.
Construction was slated to wrap up in 2018, but it is now 2021, and the project has come to a standstill.
Bids coming in high
The project has faced delays due to issues with grant funding as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, but the issue now is the bids for the final renovations.
The bids for the renovations were rejected in March, and sent out to bid again by the council at its May meeting. The rebids were rejected in June and sent out again the same month. The bids were rejected in July.
Officials said the bids are coming in higher than what the property was valued at. In June, the bids came in at $6.8 million. But the former Holy Family building is worth less than that. The BEOF had the building appraised in its current state and in its completed state. In its completed state, the building was valued at $4.5 million. As a result, the bids were rejected by the council for the third time at the July meeting.
Following the third rejection, the BEOF negotiated based on the ordinances for the city of Bayonne’s public bid process. The BEOF and the city were working on negotiations to secure a contractor for the renovations.
However, negotiations failed, and the council passed a resolution to authorize the work be sent out to bid for the fourth time at the September meeting. Law Director Jay Coffey read the resolution into the record.
The resolution reiterated what Howard and Ashe-Nadrowski had said about the project: “The bids were rejected because the lowest bid substantially exceeded the cost estimates for the services sought. The lowest bid also substantially exceeded the city’s appropriation for the services offered.”
The resolution continued: “Subsequent negotiations under the applicable provisions of the local public contracts law proved fruitless, and it is now necessary to modify the bid specification to advertise for bids consistent with the modified bid specifications.”
The council will either accept or reject bids for the renovations at its next meeting on Oct. 20, in person at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. Residents can attend in person or online. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.
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