Garage Mahal

Work is moving along slowly on the $3 million-plus Bay St. Louis downtown parking garage, which has an official completion date in July and will cost more than $25,000 per parking spot when finished, if current figures hold.

Mayor Les Fillingame said Tuesday that the garage was originally expected to be completed by May 10. But because of change orders, rain days and other problems, the completion date has been delayed by city officials until July 16.

“A whole multitude of little issues” caused the delay, Fillingame said. “Everybody agreed that it was reasonable.”

A contract for the garage was originally awarded to White-Spunner Construction, of Mobile, last July 23. The structure is being built on the site of the former Hancock County Jail, which was constructed in 1984 and closed after Hurricane Katrina.

It took about two weeks to tear down the old concrete, fortress-like jail building. Then, the discovery of old fuel tanks and other materials below ground slowed construction even more. That required a change order and price increase to remove the tanks. Then last January, project architect Allison Anderson asked for eight more change order items that hiked the cost by another $37,583.68.

The changes included revising the elevation of the garage, revising the parking ramp, waterproofing, adding more rebar and steel, and revising cable guardrail and supports. The guardrail and support revisions alone cost nearly $20,000.

The original cost of the parking garage was about $3.13 million. After the price increases were approved by the City Council, the price rose to $3,182,922.68.

If an original plan remains in place for the garage to provide 125 parking spaces, they will cost $25,463.38 each.

This week, workers have been stringing guard cables on the structure’s second level. Fillingame said one of the final touches will be an entrance to the garage, which he said “will be time-consuming.”

After the two-story the garage is completed, Hancock County officials plan to build a civic center on the third floor. The mayor said no firm dates are yet available on that part of the project.

“They’ve not solidified anything,” he said.

BY: J.R. Welsh

The Sea Coast Echo

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