NEW HANOVER COUNTY — The price tag to restore the integrity of New Hanover High School’s flagship gym, currently decommissioned, will be more expensive than anticipated. But, if the final cost is approved by officials, the gymnasium could be ready to use again by next school year.
Engineers and a construction manager at-risk firm have determined that Brogden Hall, which is built upon a raised slab of concrete, does in fact need to be entirely replaced. The estimated cost to remediate its issues is now $2.7 million.
That price is expected to cover the removal and replacement of the supporting foundations, including all the piers and footings, the slab and the floor. There will also be miscellaneous work to spruce up the venue, such as new bleachers and a fresh coat of paint.
“We’re hoping that, by the end of this, it is going to be like a brand new gym,” Eddie Anderson, assistant superintendent for operations, told officials during a Nov. 30 meeting.
School system facilities staff are planning to present a final “guaranteed maximum price” to the New Hanover County Board of Education in February for its approval. First, it is completing construction documents and putting out requests for bids within the month. Subcontractors must submit bids by mid-January.
To get ahead of supply chain issues, New Hanover County Schools has released a pre-bid package with an early December deadline for some of the initial work on the project. There are already enough details known about the structure’s needs to contract out some of the jobs, begin ordering materials and keep the project on schedule.
Demolition of the equipment under the slab could start as soon as this month, and destruction of the slab itself is scheduled to commence in mid-January. Then the remaining existing foundation can be removed.
Once the demolition is finished, installation of the new base and gym floor can begin, upon approval by the school board on the final price. Construction would complete by late July or early August 2022.
In November, the school board approved an increased budget for Brogden Hall to $1.4 million, transferring $259,683 in savings and deferring $1.2 million worth of projects. That includes $570,000 for site repairs at Codington Elementary, $545,000 for the roof at New Hanover High School and $85,000 for Laney High’s HVAV in the band room. As soon as more funding is available, the school district intends to re-budget those three projects.
Later this month, county commissioners will consider the same request during its Dec. 28 meeting.
Possibly up to $40-million worth of issues exist throughout the high school and its gym that have yet to be addressed, and staff recognizes adjacent offices are leaking, but staff says it still isn’t time to raze the decades-old gymnasium entirely. Leanne Lawrence, director of facility planning and construction for NHCS, reported that it’s yet to reach the point at which the cost of a new building is below the cost of restoration.
“It’d be a whole lot of crying and gnashing of teeth in our community,” Commissioner Jonathan Barfield said. “Buildings like Brogden Hall and Williston’s gym, you just don’t get those every day. Schools aren’t building those kinds of gyms anymore either. To me, they’re definitely icons in our communities.”
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