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H-F reduces arts center costs as it re-bids project

The District 233 Finance Committee and Homewood-Flossmoor High School administrators hope a list of cuts to the proposed arts center wing will bring costs within an acceptable range.
 
Two new spaces will be built onto the South Building and interior spaces will be remodeled for the new MVP (Music, Visual and Performing Arts) Program. The intention is to have all arts programs in one wing. They now are scattered throughout the building.
 
Board members were shocked in March when bids for the project came in more than $4 million over budget. The lowest bid was $14.37 million. The board asked architect Edward Wright of DLA Architects to sharpen his pencil to bring down costs.
 
At a Tuesday committee meeting, Wright proposed 12 ways to reduce costs by an estimated $2 million, based on those earlier bids.
 
“We just heard about more tariffs coming out,” Wright said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we think we’ve cut enough to see a reduction.”
 
Finance committee members Steve Anderson, Gerald Pauling and Beth Larocca agreed with the proposed changes that include small items, such as $10,000 for acoustical sliding control booth windows, to those that save as much as $240,000 by elimination of a recording studio, sound booth and ensemble rooms.
 
The highest cost savings of $640,000 would be realized by eliminating the transfer of the graphic design program to the MVP wing. In addition, the 2-D art program would move into what now is the choral room, and the music practice rooms would not undergo any remodeling. 
 
In 2017, the school board saw DLA’s first proposal for an arts wing. In presenting the need for a new center for the arts, faculty noted that programs have grown beyond capacity and music students often can be seen practicing in hallways. Art classes are in small spaces that can hinder creativity, and performing arts is on a calendar that forces it to share the stage with other school programs.
 
The proposal calls for construction of a black box theater built onto the north wall of the Mall Auditorium. A music wing will be constructed onto the east side of the South Building. Current music spaces will be remodeled for fine arts.
 
The project will be submitted to contractors this week. The board is expected to approve a contract by the end of the month. 
 
Wright said the hope is that work on the black box theater and music wing will begin by July 1 and be under roof before winter weather hits the area. That will enable contractors to work indoors. The expected completion date is Aug. 1, 2020.
 
Phase II, remodeling of the current music spaces for the fine arts program, should begin in early June 2020 and be ready by Oct. 1, 2020.

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