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ETSU parking garage $3 million over budget; construction to start this month

Rex Barber • Jul 2, 2012 at 9:13 PM

East Tennessee State University’s planned parking garage will cost $3 million more than expected, which resulted in a delay for the start of construction from June to later this month.

David Collins, vice president of finance and administration at ETSU, said the State Building Commission approved the $3 million increase to the $23 million project.

Collins said new contracts for the construction are being processed and he hopes to be able to have a notice to proceed with construction around July 15, maybe sooner. Construction should begin soon after the notice to proceed is in place.

It had been previously reported the construction contract could be in place by June 14.

The garage is still expected to be finished in time for the fall 2013 semester.

Rentenbach Constructors, a firm out of Knoxville, won the bid for the garage.

The 1,200-space parking garage will be located at the corner of John Robert Bell Drive and West State of Franklin road.

A 200-space parking lot is now located where the parking garage will go. Part of the project will involve relocating the school’s tennis court from near Warf-Pickel Hall to out near Summers-Taylor Stadium, the school’s soccer field. The total cost of both projects is now $26 million.

The garage will be paid for using a student-imposed parking fee increase from $25 per semester to $50 per semester. Freshmen and sophomores paid the increased parking fees this past school year. Juniors will pay the fees beginning this coming school year. Seniors and graduate students will pay the increased fees the year after that.

Despite the increased construction cost, Collins said he thinks the current student parking fees will pay for the construction. The reason is that the state requires ETSU to figure estimating bond rates at 7.5 percent. Collins said current bond rates are between three and four percent, so the increased cost should not be outside the scope of the fee.

Collins said the increase in cost could be attributed to many things. One thing he suggested was the upward trend in the economy and the ability of contractors to charge more for construction. Collins said for the past few years the school has received good deals on construction projects.

Collins said the school is working with Rentenbach to do what is called value engineering, which will allow for a reduction in costs that could then be applied to things like redoing a road that will be affected by the construction. Value engineering would be using different glass, having only one sign instead of two and reducing the food service area planned for the garage.

The first floor of the new garage will be the parking office’s new location and the second floor will be public safety’s new office. These offices are currently located on the east end of campus.

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