School Building Project Value Engineering Continues; Initial Projection of Town’s Share is $58 Million

Architect's rendering of entryway to the new elementary school at Fort River. Photo: amherstma.gov

The Elementary School Building Committee (ESBC) continued to review value engineering measures to decrease costs for the planned new Fort River elementary school at its January 19, 2023 meeting. The committee agreed to about $5 million in savings to bring down the total estimate to between $81 and 82 million. Several other potential items could lower the cost estimate further. Changes in certain building and site materials to be used, and various changes to the design that do not significantly affect the educational and energy features of the building, would achieve most of these cost savings.

Margaret Wood, the Owner’s Project Manager, presented estimations of total project costs (~$99 million). This figure includes a soft cost estimate of 20% (the amount added to the total construction costs that includes OPM, Architect, Subconsultant, and moving fees; furnishings, equipment, and technology; and construction and owner’s contingencies). This soft cost figure is lower than what was used for the previous estimate in June 2022 (25%) and lower than those of other recent MSBA elementary school projects (average of 26% from the past 2 years; range 21% to 31%).

Wood also offered an initial projection of the maximum grant possible from the MSBA (based on  their recently revised reimbursement cap) at ~$41 million, leaving ~$58 million as the Town’s share. The MSBA will not provide definitive figures until it reviews and approves the documents being submitted by the ESBC. 

Other funding sources (Community Preservation Act for athletic fields, Inflation Reduction Act for solar panels, and Eversource for the ground source heat pump system) could further reduce the amount that would be required from property taxes. The possibility of using some portion of capital reserve funds (set aside for the “four major capital projects”) has also been raised previously in the Finance Committee.

DiNisco Design will update the Amherst Town Council on Monday, January 23 at 5:30 pm (available via Zoom or Amherst Media live stream). Community Forums are scheduled for Wednesday, January 25 at 8:30 am and Thursday, January 26 at 6:30 pm (via Zoom).  

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