A construction manager master contract has been unanimously approved to complete the restoration of the island's oldest structure.
The Fort Myers Beach Town Council authorized a construction manager at risk agreement between the Town and Fowler Construction to set a guaranteed maximum price for the Mound House Restoration Phase II project on Monday evening. That price has been set at $748,332 with two alternatives for a fire suppression system ($10,839) and window protection ($9,333) included.
Restoring the interior of the Williams H. Case House to its 1921 grandeur would help open the complete Town-owned property for tourism. The property is open for pedestrian traffic, and tours for the walk-in underground shell mound exhibit and landscape plantings are available for donations only until the project is completed.
It was important to approve and sign the contract before Monday, Oct. 28. A grant for $445,000 needs to be encumbered by that date. The issue was discussed at length during a Town workshop in the morning, and cost figures to fully finish the project were thrown around but not iced down.
"I want the Mound House (project) done, because we have so much invested in it," said Councilman Bob Raymond. "It would be ridiculous to stop now."
Approximately $1 million was said to be needed to complete the project. The restoration project will not include exterior lighting at this time.
So far, Town officials have committed $178,000 (museum action plan) in non-construction dollars from the $445,000 grant, leaving at least $267,000 to be applied toward restoration of the house.
There may be more costs to fully finish the building construction and open it as a completely furnished museum.
Councilman Joe Kosinski, an engineer by trade, likes the GMP agreement. He cited the approach is less costly than a hard bid with frequent change orders if problems arise.
"I think that it is $250,000 in additional costs that we are finding out," he said. "This is a premiere project on this Beach, and we are all committed to get it done."
Reserves will help fund the project.
"The only way we are going to pay for this is out of reserves," said Town Manager Terry Stewart.
Earlier in the day, Robert Fowler and one of his construction team members provided information and answered questions at a Council workshop. Issues such as the lead paint situation at the property and detailed historic specifications to meet the era's standards (such as matching a 1920s bathroom tub or the right masonry bricks) as well as adding funds for a fire suppression system and hurricane protection to the historic windows were discussed.
"As a construction manager, we're tasked with establishing and agreeing to a fee up front. Then we go to work," said Fowler.
Lead problems have plagued Mound House. Because of cost and anticipated limited penetration needs, a prior determination was made to encapsulate the lead versus having lead paint removed. Fowler, who is experienced in these types of projects, is planning on removing the lead paint at a maximum cost of $35,000.
Then, there is the task of locating museum items of that era.
"An example is in one room we have to match masonry, and it is very, very critical that it be identical," said Fowler. "Try to find bricks that were made out of sand that also have the hollow area behind it."
Setting a GMP for such a historic project is difficult.
"We have been able to stabilize close to 90 percent of costs," said Fowler.
A second motion for a budget amendment was needed to approve a resolution to authorize the transfer of funds up to $500,000 from general fund reserves to the Mound House project.
The Town of Fort Myers Beach acquired the Mound House property with funds from Florida Communities Trust in 2000. Previous property management and grant details were cited as a reason for the length of time it has taken to get to this point.
"I do believe there was a lot of mismanagement at the beginning of this entire project," said Councilwoman Jo List. "I don't think any of us have the will to let this project drop."
"Unfortunately, nobody at the time made the effort to sit down and provide you with estimated costs to get to where you need to be," added Stewart. "One of the reasons we wound up where we are today is because there was an illusion of a decision to fund this project through grants."
References to restoring such an older building were made, such as "opening up a can of worms." That was a cited reason why qualified contractors rejected placing bids on Mound House. There are hopes Fowler Construction will come under the GMP cost.
"This will be an extraordinary accomplishment, but not an inexpensive one," said Stewart.
Beach Bums granted alcohol service
Beach Bums eatery can now serve alcoholic beverages in the establishment's designated outdoor seating area after Council unanimously approved the applicant's request for special exception in the downtown zoning district.
Owners Sherry Bertucelli and Diane Boulay have already met conditions set by the Town Local Planning Agency. The outdoor area is the only seating for the 1190 Estero Blvd. restaurant.
Yucatan Beach Stand granted deck construction
Yucatan Beach Stand has been approved to expand with a 190 square foot roofed deck on the side of the existing building at 250 Old San Carlos Blvd. The special exception request was unanimously granted by Council with conditions and allows service of alcoholic beverages.
While a building permit has already been applied for and granted, Town officials found inconsistencies in the building plan and the built deck during final inspection. The contractor has worked to resubmit plans, but approval from a zoning plan review before the granted variance was needed.
Lighthouse Resort granted to keep signage
With seven added deviations amended to the Town's Commercial Planned Development for the existing sign ordinance, Lighthouse Resort has been allowed to keep its existing signage.
Council unanimously approved the applicant's request relating to the establishment's overall sign square footage, sign setbacks and height. A separate deviation for internally lit signs will return to LPA for recommendation.
Pink Shell granted use of parking areas
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina was unanimously approved an amendment to an existing Town Commercial Planned Development to add "Recreation, Commercial with membership" to an approved schedule of uses to enable parking areas on lots 38 and 39 for employees, guests and members parking.
Council granted the action. It will allow Pink Shell to create a commercial membership program.