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UT invites contractors to participate in renovation project

The University of Toledo is looking for a diverse group of contractors to participate in a more than $7 million renovation project to a campus building.

The University’s renovation of a wing of Bowman-Oddy Laboratories to create a Center for Biosphere Restoration Research is one of three projects approved by the state to test a new construction method aimed to be more flexible and efficient and increase minority participation in public construction.

UT is inviting contractors and minority-owned businesses to attend the Center for Biosphere Restoration Research Outreach Event from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 30, in the Memorial Field House Auditorium to learn the project parameters and bid schedule.

UT President Lloyd Jacobs and Toledo Mayor Mike Bell will welcome participants and provide remarks about economic development in the region. And representatives from the Ohio Department of Administrative Services will provide information about the needed certifications and answer questions.

“This brings an important economic development opportunity to our community, especially to business owners from underrepresented backgrounds,” said Dr. Shanda Gore, UT assistant vice president for equity and diversity. “Our participation in this construction reform project will strengthen public construction in Ohio in a way that will increase the number of local and minority-owned firms that participate in shaping our university campuses and all other public facilities.”

What makes the Bowman-Oddy renovation project unique is it will use a construction delivery method of construction manager at risk, rather than the traditional “multi-prime” approach that awards numerous different contracts for the work. In this new approach, the construction manager would work with the individual trade contractors in way that is more flexible and saves time.

The rules regarding public construction contracts have essentially remained unchanged for the last 133 years, but Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Ohio Chancellor Eric Fingerhut have undertaken a reform project to see if there is a more efficient way. Public construction accounts for nearly $3 billion in state spending, with about $1 billion of that at Ohio’s institutions of higher education.

“Managing public construction projects more efficiently is an opportunity for Ohio to save taxpayers millions of dollars,” Strickland said. “These projects will help us find the best methods that can accelerate construction projects while spending less money.”

In addition to increasing efficiency and lowering costs, the reform is looking for ways to increase minority participation in state projects. The University has set a goal of 15 percent participation from minority-owned businesses for the Bowman-Oddy renovation project.

The construction project will include the renovation of a 21,291-square-foot space on three floors of Bowman-Oddy to create the Center for Biosphere Restoration Research that will house 13 faculty members from the UT Department of Environmental Sciences.

The center will be located in the south wing of Bowman-Oddy, which was constructed in 1966. Wolfe Hall, built in 1997, will house the required “domino moves” involving the relocation of four undergraduate science instruction labs and other support from Bowman-Oddy. Those labs will be located in areas of Wolfe Hall vacated by the College of Pharmacy, which is moving to new and renovated facilities on the UT Health Science Campus.

The project, which is to be complete by April 2012, will include new mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, and, architecturally, it will involve wholesale reconfiguration of non-load-bearing partitions, new finishes, and new laboratory casework and office furniture.

Renovations at Ohio State University and Central State University also were selected as Construction Reform Demonstration Projects.

“These three pilot construction projects will utilize new methods of construction while we measure cost and time efficiencies, minority business participation, and project quality,” Fingerhut said. “Higher education is dedicated to finding new efficiencies, and we hope to find opportunities that allow us to save money while increasing our capacity to educate Ohio’s future work force and drive economic growth.”