Jonesborough’s Seniors Center Advisory Committee on Monday unanimously approved a new set of scaled-back designs for the town’s new senior center that brought the project back within its $2.3 million budget and moved the project one step closer to construction.
The committee’s vote sent the plans on to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, which approved Rainey Contractors’ revised $2.3 million construction bid Monday evening.
The new designs cut more than $2 million out of Rainey’s original $4.5 million bid, which was the lowest of a total of seven bids submitted for the project.
Town Administrator Bob Browning said while the state Fire Marshal’s Office must review and approve the revised plans, site preparation may begin as early as next week. The town hopes to begin the building’s construction later this year.
Browning and Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe have been working with Rainey and Ken Ross Architects on the new “value-engineered” designs since the bids were opened July 25.
The original designs called for a two-story structure with approximately 22,000 square feet of finished space on the main and lower levels and 7,000 square feet of lower-level space that was to be left unfinished for future expansion.
Amenities were to include a multi-use dining room and commercial kitchen, exercise, craft and game rooms, showers and locker rooms on the lower level, large and small classrooms with a computer lab, a parlor, a lobby and administrative offices.
The scaled-back designs eliminate the kitchen and leaves the entire lower level unfinished, doing away with the showers, locker rooms and space for three offices that Wolfe and Browning said may be added at a later time.
Architect Ken Ross said the new plan includes more than 13,000 in finished space, or four to five times the space available at the current Seniors Center adjacent to Persimmon Ridge Park.
According to Ross, a cost-saving change in the grade of the new seniors center site reduced the center’s lower-level space to approximately 8,500 square feet, or about 75 percent less lower-level space than was included in the original design.
Wolfe said the unfinished space will leave ample room for future expansion of the center and assured the committee members the future addition of a kitchen will be a priority project.
Ross said work will be done to support the future addition of a kitchen, and the lower level will be built at a depth of 14 feet from floor to ceiling to leave adequate space for future duct work and plumbing.
The new plans also replaced a state-of-the-art heating and air conditioning system that was originally bid for $1 million with a more moderate HVAC system, finished attic space with open trusses and a metal roof with asphalt shingles.
Pleased by the cost savings, the preservation of most of the building’s amenities and the potential for the project to proceed on schedule, committee member Mary Gearhart quoted President Ronald Reagan, saying, “ ‘If you get 80 percent of what you want, you ought to be happy.’ I’m certainly happy with the outcome. I think there are a lot of happy people here today.”
“I say let’s get on with the project,” committee member Kyle Shell said in a motion to send the revised plans on to the board for approval.
Following the committee’s approval and prior to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Monday evening, Wolfe requested three aesthetic features removed form the original plans be restored to the final design to enhance the building’s appearance.
For an additional $40,950, the building’s metal roof, decorative upper-level balconies and brick work above the center’s windows were restored to the final plans.
Seniors Center Director Janet Miller said after the meeting that very little cooking is done at the current center, where food is catered in for large social gatherings and delivered by the First Tennessee Human Resource Agency Nutrition Program for daily congregate meals for low-income seniors in the community.