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City officials are turning to a contractor with experience juggling a schedule as they proceed toward starting the renovation of Bowman Gray Stadium next year.
Winston-Salem is hiring Frank L. Blum Construction Co. to become the construction manager on the project, which is expected to cost some $9 million and result in an improved stadium for stock-car racing and Winston-Salem State University football.
Ben Rowe, assistant city manager in Winston-Salem, said the city looked for a construction manager because of the complexity of juggling a construction schedule around football games and auto races.
Blum has a lot of experience doing that, Rowe said, and that’s one reason the city picked the locally-based company to do the work.
“That was very important to us” when looking at Blum’s qualifications for the work, Rowe said. “We asked proposers to submit a number of projects that were relevant to what we are wanting to do.”
Blum handled major construction at BB&T Field at Wake Forest University, building McCreary Tower around the 2007 football season.
But that’s not all, Blum vice president Mark Dunnagan said of the work at Wake Forest.
“We also built the field house in the ’90s, and put in the video board after the tower was constructed,” he said. “We redid the concessions and bathrooms. We have been all around that stadium over the years, and all of those were revolving around the football schedule or the Winston-Salem Open.”
When a stadium remains in use, Dunnagan said, work has to be scheduled so that any clean-up can be done or construction hazards removed before the fans show up on the weekend.
“Being late is not an option on stadium projects,” he said.
For now, Blum is making $40,000 for pre-construction services, but later on the company will earn a more substantial fee for managing construction.
A minority-owned business, W.C. Construction Co., is entering into a joint venture with Blum on the project, raising the minority business participation in the work to 35%, city officials said, a number well above the city’s goal of 10% for minority and woman-owned businesses.
The selection of Blum is the city’s latest step in moving toward the stadium renovation, which was announced in November of 2018 in a news conference inside the field house at Bowman Gray Stadium.
In September, the city hired Walter Robbs Callahan & Pierce Architects to design the stadium renovations at a cost of almost $700,000.
As construction manager, Blum will work with the architects to develop cost estimates and work schedules, and at some point return to the city with a guaranteed maximum price.
If the city accepts the guaranteed maximum price, the city pays Blum that amount even if the actual costs go higher. It is a way of locking in a price for the city.
“The (city) will pay the guaranteed maximum price unless the project comes in under budget,” Rowe said. “It is considered to be an effective method if you have a project that is time-sensitive and critical to keep within the budget.”
The Bowman Gray Stadium renovation is part of a bigger $33.1 million capital needs program the city is embarking on.
The stadium improvements include replacing concession stands and restrooms, re-grading the football field, resurfacing the race track and carrying out utility and building upgrades and repairs. Appearance improvements will include creating ways to better identify the stadium as the home of WSSU football.
Most of the work will need to be done after football season and before racing season. Rowe said design work will continue until the middle of next year, when the project will come back to the city council for approval of the guaranteed maximum price. Construction will likely start in the fall of 2020, and wrap up sometime in 2022.
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