New EPHS remains over budget, but is expected to meet mark

Project manager says he's confident building will come in at approved $189.5 million figure

By Mike Rego
Posted 8/14/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The proposed design of the new East Providence High School remains over budget, but the principles representing the district’s interest and the architect of the four-story …

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New EPHS remains over budget, but is expected to meet mark

Project manager says he's confident building will come in at approved $189.5 million figure

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The proposed design of the new East Providence High School remains over budget, but the principles representing the district’s interest and the architect of the four-story structure emphasized it was a normal part of the process and they expect the final project to meet the funding cap.

Sam Bradner, of the Peregrine Group that serves as the district’s project manager, told the School Committee at its August 13 meeting the estimated costs of the new EPHS were still some $9 million over budget at the moment, but was confident it will settle at the $189.5 million figure approved by voters at the November 2018 election.

He reminded those in attendance the plans initially came in about $40 million above the voter-backed number, but during the course of the last several months all involved have been able to whittle away at the overage.

Ward 4 Committee member Jessica Beauchaine asked about the present budgetary situation, to which Mr. Bradner replied, the cost projection was “very much in line with this step in the process.” Mr. Bradner continued, it was common place in the industry for a project of this size to be approximately three to four percent over budget at this stage.

About eventually getting the cost of the project down to the $189.5 million figure, he later said, “We still have work to do…I’m confident that with the hard work the team has put in already we can get there.”

Several aspects of the design have been altered. The athletic fields proposed to be placed at the front of the new building parallel to Pawtucket Avenue, geared towards softball and baseball, initially were to feature artificial turf. As of now, though, they are set to be grassed.

Of the turf change and of other potential adjustments to the plans during the final design phases, Mr. Bradner said, “This is a way for the project team and the owner to have (cost) relief valves in the process.”

Appearing to agree with the decision, Committee Chairman and Ward 1 representative Charlie Tsonos said, “The building is the most important part of the project. Fields, we can always do something later with the fields.”

Noteworthy as well, certain areas conceived to have concrete bases are now scheduled to have asphalt.

Mr. Bradner said of those decisions, “We tried to come up with a balance,” adding designers determined between the use of the two materials based on the amount of pedestrian traffic along with the need for plowing and “heavy” salting.

Other elements removed from the initial conception were the potential for three interior elevators and an exterior greenhouse. Mr. Bradner stressed, however, the actual “educational” space was spared from the reductions.

He said about how potential changes to the design are thought out, “We’re always trying to make an informed decision.”

Later in the presentation, Jim Jordan, representing the building’s architectural firm Ai3, led the committee through a more detailed update on the updated design, the final construction documents for which are scheduled to be completed in early December.

He repeatedly used the term “value management” to distinguish between how the designers are weighing the costs of some materials and the aesthetic elements of the project.

Mr. Jordan highlighted a host of the more notable features, including the 900 seat auditorium that includes two “green” rooms for performers to prepare for shows. He noted the walking track above and around the gym floor and a mezzanine overlooking the Career and Tech Center’s automotive area.

In addition, Mr. Jordan said although some features have been omitted, integral electrical and plumbing aspects remain. And the two elevators included in the design meet both Americans with Disabilities Act standards and will give maintenance workers needed access.

At-Large Committeeman and new EPHS Committee co-chair Joel Monteiro said at one point in last week’s discussion there has been much consideration of the changes and communication between all of the interested parties has been extensive. Any reductions, he continued, were being balanced against the bottom line.

“We’re are definitely looking to maximize this opportunity that we have, but be cost conscious about it,” said Mr. Monteiro.

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.