Reprinted with permission from The Republic newspaper, September 3, 2023

The city of Columbus has chosen a contractor for work on the exterior campus of NexusPark, though the project’s price tag is still being determined.

The Columbus Board of Works voted to award the work — also known as Phase 1C — to Force Construction, which is also the contractor on the fieldhouse at NexusPark.

The city will now work on negotiating a contract with the company, said Parks Associate Director of Business Services Pam Harrell.

“We’re trying to get a meeting scheduled for later this week or early next week so that we can sit down and get that contract moving,” she said. “We hope to take the contract to Board of Works for approval on Sept. 12 so that they can start as soon as possible.”

She added that this is a tentative date.

According to Harrell, the city sought contractors for the work through a request for proposals rather than a competitive bidding process. Force, Dave O’Mara Contractors and Turner Construction each submitted proposals, which included base proposals and alternates for EV charging systems and an irrigation system.

After looking over the submissions, the city asked the companies if they could provide value engineering concepts that might be able to reduce the price to $6.5 million or less, Harrell said. The project amount will be announced once the city awards the final contract.

“The value engineering piece that they gave is very tentative,” she said. “It’s not finalized yet. We have to go through this process before we can actually know if we’re even going to do some of the value engineering items that they gave us.”

The project is currently expected to include work on parking lots, a playground in front of the parks department entrance, a loop trail around the perimeter of the campus, parking lot lighting, curbs, sidewalks and landscaping, Harrell said.

When asked if the project is still expected to include a small park, she replied that it is still planned, but she can’t say for sure that it won’t be cut.

The city hopes that Phase 1C will be completely finished by the end of 2025, Harrell said. While the majority of the project might be done by the end of 2024, there are some pieces that may take place later due to factors such as asphalt plants being closed or workers having to wait for the correct planting seasons for landscaping.

Columbus City Council voted in June to authorize the Columbus Redevelopment Commission to grant up to $6.5 million from the Central Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District to the Midtown TIF to fund the project.