By MARK RICE
Thirteen years after the first public dollars were dedicated to the $36 million project, the Muscogee County School District has set a groundbreaking date and released a breakdown of its final budget.
The information was part of the agenda for the Muscogee County School Board's work session Monday evening.
The arts academy's groundbreaking ceremony will be Feb. 27, starting at 1 p.m., at 1700 Midtown Drive. The project, scheduled to be completed by May 2017, will comprise approximately 118,500 square feet on 15 acres between the Columbus Aquatic Center and Rigdon Road Elementary School. A portion of the academy, designed to accommodate 500 students in grades 6-12, will be three stories. Superintendent David Lewis released a rendering of the academy Monday night after the board's closed session to discuss real estate matters.
Here is the administration's estimated cost breakdown of the project:
$32,041,187: Guaranteed maximum price from construction contractor Brasfield & Gorrie of Columbus.
$1,850,000: Architect and engineering fees. The project's architect is Hecht Burdeshaw of Columbus.
$1,600,000: Furniture, fixtures and equipment.
$240,000: Special consultants.
$140,000: Topographical and environmental.
$128,813: Owner's contingency.
Funding for the project comes from the past three 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes:
The SPLOST Columbus voters approved in 2003 included $1,160,000 in seed money to start planning the academy.
The SPLOST Columbus voters approved in 2009 included $15,754,406 for the project. By November 2012, however, the estimated cost of the academy nearly had doubled, to $28.3 million. And with the $223,155,784 plan for the 2009 SPLOST projects falling $40 million short in expected sales tax revenue because of the Great Recession, the board approved interim Superintendent John Phillips' recommendation to eliminate projects totaling $17,756,250 and defer projects totaling $19,568,977, including the arts academy. Part of those savings freed up money to target an estimated total of $30 million toward the arts academy. The project was delayed in favor of higher priorities, such as a replacement for Carver High, a new middle school (Aaron Cohn) and a new elementary school (Dorothy Height).
The SPLOST Columbus voters approved in 2015 includes $6 million to enhance the arts academy, adding a creative writing lab and film school to the project.
The plan for the arts academy now contains the following programs: band, choral, creative writing, dance, film, guitar, music business, musical theater, orchestra, piano, technical theater, theater and visual arts.
Mark Rice. 706-576-6272. Follow him on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.