Council commits to contractor for Arts Center renovation

City remains in ‘really strong financial condition’

Simpsonville City Council moved the arts center renovation forward Tuesday by unanimously approving a notice of intent to award a contract for the project to Central Interiors.

Council voted 7-0 at its first business meeting of 2021 to approve the notice presented by City Administrator Dianna Gracely, who said the City was required to select the contractor with the lowest bid since the City is using federal funds for the renovation. Simpsonville received in 2019 a grant of $500,000 for the renovation project from the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership with the purpose of supporting economic development in the Appalachia region.

Approval of the notice conveys the intention of the City to award the contract for renovations of the Simpsonville Arts Center to Central Interiors, which submitted the lowest bid of $1,738,182.04.

Artist rendering of the Simpsonville Arts Center interior

“I’m very pleased with the way the numbers came in,” Gracely said, referring to the eight bids for the project submitted to the City in November and December. “Of course you always have numbers that are a bit out of the ball park, and we did have a couple of rather high bids, but most of them were in the same general area, which gives us a lot of confidence that the contractors are all seeing the materials the same way and a lot of the subcontractors are bidding these jobs competitively.”

Gracely stressed to Council the contract amount does not cover the total cost of the project, including design fees, special materials inspections, sound and lighting and auditorium seating.

Councilwoman Jenn Hulehan of Ward 3 made the motion to approve awarding the contract for the Arts Center to Central Interiors with Councilman Ken Cummings of Ward 5 voicing the required second.
Gracely said Council will vote on the actual contract once the S.C. Department of Commerce reviews and approves the documents.

“It’s an intent to award based on a complete and thorough review of the contractor to make sure there are no issues, to make sure their references check out, to make sure their creditors are good because we don’t want to get in a situation with a contractor who’s unable to perform,” Gracely said.
Gracely estimated construction would start at the earliest in mid-February.
In addition to receiving the notice of intent to award the renovation contract, Council also received the good news that the City of Simpsonville is in “really strong financial condition” as of last June, according to David Phillips of accounting firm Greene Finney, LLP, which conducted the City’s annual audit in 2020.

At the conclusion of the audit, the firm rendered an “unmodified opinion,” which Phillips said was “a good thing.”

An unmodified opinion means the firm found no major accounting mistakes by the City.

“You have a really strong financial condition,” Phillips said. “Of course, that just doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something that the councils there for years have worked towards, and when you have that, it gives you opportunities and options that a lot of other governments may not have.”
Phillips also noted that City Hall staff was “really great to work with.”
The meeting may be viewed on the City of Simpsonville YouTube Channel.
Council will next meet Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. via an online meeting service for Committee of the Whole. All council meetings can be viewed on the City of Simpsonville YouTube Channel.

For more information, contact Justin Lee Campbell, community relations specialist, at■

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