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Ground to break soon on Van Lare Hall

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Nick Brege, facilities director for Alpena Community College, points on Thursday to a group of pillars that will be knocked down at Van Lare Hall as part of an $8.7 million renovation.

ALPENA — The Van Lare Hall renovation project at Alpena Community College should start in a couple of weeks, President Don MacMaster said Thursday.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget approved bids this week for interior demolition, concrete work, electrical contractors, fire suppression systems, and other work.

MacMaster said bidders offered the prices the college hoped to see.

However, the college is seeking new bids for masonry and windows work. ACC Facilities Director Nick Brege said those came back with only one bidder each and higher than budgeted.

“We’re going to try and generate some more interest from the contractors,” Brege said. “That was one of our delays. We wanted to get kicked off sooner. Time is money, so the longer we wait, the more the project seems to cost, so it’s in our best interest to get started now.”

The state is allowing ACC is start construction while seeking the final two bids. Those are expected back in about a month.

“We can do two things at one time,” MacMaster said. “We can get started on the bids we like and rebid the ones that we would like to get more involvement, more participation, and at a lower cost.”

The project is estimated to cost almost $8.7 million.

The construction budget, with money for contingencies, is about $7.1 million. Professional fees and permits are budgeted at about $810,000. And about about $240,000 is budgeted for fixtures, furniture, and equipment.

The college already spent $520,000 for asbestos abatement, according to numbers provided by the college.

The college is hoping to have the building ready for classes in January 2021.

“The window for us has always been now and the end of this year,” MacMaster said. “We’re shooting to have it done by the end of December of this year, 2020, and have it ready to open in January of 2021, a year from now.”

WHAT THE PROJECT ENTAILS

The renovation will improve the college’s nursing program, but also upgrade the building overall for both faculty and students who aren’t in the nursing program.

The lobby of the building will be opened to add more seating for students who are either waiting for rides or completing school work.

The student lounge will be enlarged with a wall pushed back about 20 feet. Glass windows will be added to allow more natural light into the area.

The lounge food services area will get a complete remodel and will be moved to the other side of that area. Brege said the lounge will look a lot different because it will have all new finishes and higher ceilings.

Both the admissions office and all bathrooms will get a complete remodel.

The administrative offices in the building will all receive new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, fire suppression upgrades, and new windows.

“We’re not rearranging any walls or doing any major modifications in there, but they’ll get the new upgraded HVAC and windows,” Brege said.

Brege said the classroom layout in the building won’t change a lot, but classroom sizes are changing because, “when the building was originally built in 1957, it had larger rooms for labs and that space isn’t needed anymore,” Brege said.

Lab space for the nursing program will double.

An advanced lab section will be added, with simulated hospital rooms centered around a control room where a technician or faculty member can instruct the nurses directly.

Brege said an addition to the end of the building will house a debriefing area for the nursing classes.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.

In other business

The Alpena Community College Board of Trustees on Thursday also heard from President Don MacMaster that spring semester enrollment is at 1,433 students, an increase of 4% from spring 2019. Credit hours are down 1.9% from spring 2019.