Updated, 3:30 p.m -- A guaranteed maximum construction price has been set for a new downtown Terre Haute Convention Center. However, negotiations continue with a hotel group for land to complete the project, delaying the sale of bonds that will pay for the project.
The Vigo County Capital Improvement Board Wednesday approved a resolution that sets a guaranteed maximum construction price of $24.63 million. It is conditional based upon the sale of bonds for the project within the next 90 days.
The overall project budget currently is about $32.1 million. However that does not include any property acquisition costs for land east of the Hilton Garden Inn, which is owned by Terre Haute Hotel Partners LLC.
The guaranteed maximum price includes a $400,000 construction contingency fund and includes a commitment of available funding, prior to the bond issue, "toward long-item procurement like steel and also site mobilization," said CIB attorney Brain Bosma.
Bosma, the CIB's attorney for the project, is with Indianapolis-based law firm Kroger Gardis & Regas, He also is the speaker of the Indiana House of Represenatives.
The Vigo County Council in May unanimously voted to approve $22 million in bonds to fund the new convention center, along with $5 million in cash from the county's Economic Income Tax. Other funds are coming from the city of Terre Haute, the Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission and the Terre Haute Convention & Visitors Bureau.
A 1 percent Vigo County food and beverage tax that went into effect last fall is expected to support the center's operations with $1.2 million to $2.1 million annually.
Bosma said negotiations are continuing with Terre Haute Hotel Partners LLC, with Tim Dora as the managing partner, and with Fontanet Holdings LLC, owned by Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson, which owns a building at the corner of Cherry and Eighth Street. That building currently housing a state office building.
Bosma said negotiations on land remain the last part of the project, adding changes under discussion include allowing the hotel partners to own one of two parking garages designed for the project.
"Nothing has been agreed upon, but the Terre Haute Hotel Partners are prepared to respond" to an agreement Bosma told the board. That agreement was to be discussed in an executive session after the meeting. Fontanet is to donate land north and west of the Copper Bar.
"The current negotiations are for the hotel group to build and own the hotel garage," Bosma said. "So the guaranteed maximum price includes the convention center and the convention center parking garage.
"It does not include the hotel parking garage. There will be a financial agreement between the CIB and the (Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission) and hotel's constructor to enter into a reimbursement agreement for that construction over a period of time."
After the meeting, Vigo County Auditor Jim Bramble said that Terre Haute Hotel Partners LLC, if an agreement is reached, will be reimbursed for the construction cost of a parking garage over a period of years. However, the hotel partner group will own the parking garage and be responsible for maintenance and its operation.
"It is a different way of financing it," Bramble said. "The county bond issue essentially will still cover the cost of both garages."
Bosma told the CIB the property acquisition is now the key to the project.
"We cannot proceed with the bond issue until we have an enforceable right to acquire the properties there. It is my hope that will be resolved before the next board meeting, or we might be so lucky as to have it resolved prior to that," which could require a special meeting to vote on any new agreement, Bosma said.
The board is next slated to Sept. 18.
Steve Bauer, vice president of construction services for Nations Group, told the CIB that the hotel partner group sought a "number of modifications that needed to be incorporated in plan modifications to the convention center plans as well as hotel garage plans."
CSO, the Indianapolis-based architectural firm on the project, completed the design changes, Bauer said, which have been issued to Garmong Construction Services, which is serving as "construction manager as constructor." Under that designation, Garmong can perform up to 20 percent of the construction work on the project.
Bauer said a design of a connector between the Hilton Garden Inn and the convention center has been changed. Also changed is a Hilton Garden Inn parking garage design. Two floors would be removed, making it a "ground floor plus two level parking garage" with approximately 160 parking spaces.
That original garage was to hold more than 200 parking spaces.
"The bids came in, and at at the end of the day, the design of the 470 space convention center parking garage was less (costly) than a 250 space hotel parking garage," Bauer said.
"The hotel group will decide exactly how it will be used, but it is my understanding that the hotel parking garage will be used for the Hilton Garden Inn patrons and we will work out an agreement with Marriott to park their patrons in the convention center parking garage," Bauer said.
"We have talked to our parking consultants and there are more than enough" parking spaces," Bauer said.
Additionally, Bauer told the CIB that "the hotel group, because of the one-way configuration of Cherry Street, wants an auto court," which will take up space that had been intended for a pedestrian plaza between the convention center garage and a new Marriott Courtyard hotel.
"That auto court caused the need to modify the entrance from Cherry Street to the convention center parking garage," which did not lose any parking spaces, Bauer said.
"It is simply a change of where you enter the garage from Cherry Street. Additionally, from that auto court, we had to add an entrance on the west side of the convention center parking garage for the patrons of the Marriott Courtyard who check in and then drive directly into that parking garage," Bauer said.
Bauer said the Terre Haute Hotel Partners will design and pay for the auto cover which will be attached to the Marriott Courtyard.
The project, Bauer said, will still have a smaller plaza area next to the convention center's north entrance.
That means the project will not have as much open space as initially designed, Bauer said. However, removing a pedestrian plaza constructed of pavers and replacing it with a concrete auto court will be among about $500,000 in cost savings.
Lastly, Bauer said Nations Group remains in contact with five to six firms interested in operating the convention center and responding to a future request for proposals. A plan to issue that request for proposals will be presented to the board at its September meeting.
Original story, 11:46 a.m. -- The maximum construction cost of the Terre Haute Convention Center will be about $24.63 million.
That comes after the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board this morning approved a measure that sets the guaranteed maximum construction price at $24,633,566.
The overall project budget currently is about $32.1 million. However that does not include any property acquisition costs for land east of the Hilton Garden Inn, which is owned by Terre Haute Hotel Partners LLC. Negotiations continue for the property.
Groundbreaking for the new convention center between Seventh and Ninth streets in downtown Terre Haute is set for 11 a.m. Sept. 6. The public is invited.
The convention center project is now slated to have bonds sold and financing in place by the end of October.
This story will be updated.