After rejecting bids time after time, the Bayonne City Council has finally awarded a contract for renovations at the former Holy Family Academy.
The contract has been awarded to Billy Contracting and Restoration, Inc. for $2,132,000.
New BEOF headquarters
The former Catholic high school is slated to become the new headquarters of the Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation (BEOF) and the location of a new branch of 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 it 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.
The three buildings that the BEOF currently operates out of will be sold to cover the cost of purchasing the former Holy Family. Construction was slated to wrap up in 2018, but it is now 2021, and the project has been at a standstill until now.
Bids came in high
The project faced delays due to issues with grant funding as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, but the main issue was for the bids for the final renovations to the school building. 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 again rejected in July.
Officials said the bids were coming in higher than the value. In June, the bids came in at $6.8 million. But the school 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 its September meeting. Law Director Jay Coffey read the resolution into the record, noting that the bid specifications had been modified.
Contract awarded at last
Now, the council has received the bids for the project and has finally found a suitable contractor. The contract for the renovations was awarded to Billy Contracting and Restoration, Inc. of Paterson, who was the lowest of four bidders at $2.1 million.
Other bids included: Alexander The Great Inc. of Fairfield at $2.2 million; Alna Construction Corp. of Secaucus also at $2.2 million; and H&S Construction and Mechanical, Inc. at $2.5 million.
The bids finally came in below the estimated $4.5 million value of the completed school building after renovations, which was a major hold up. The council voted unanimously to award the contract.
Prior to this, the city had spent $500,000 on the removal of asbestos and the upgrade of the electrical system in the school building. These final $2.1 million renovations will include the installation of new tanks after the old ones were removed with the asbestos, and the installation of a new roof.
According to the resolution, the renovations will be funded in part by a numbers of grants, donations, and other funds: $1,557,355 from Federal Head Start, $381,440 from Community Development Block Grants, $125,000 from a private donation from Hudson Lutheran Charity, $180,000 from a private donation from Community Health Connections Foundation, $100,000 from a private anonymous donation, and $7,000 from a private in-kind donation.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.