Swank Enterprises has been selected to lead construction of Flathead Valley Community College’s 58,000-square-foot Paul D. Wachholz College Center, which will include a multi-purpose activity complex, art and exhibition gallery, outdoor amphitheater and 1,000-seat performance hall with world-class acoustics.
The FVCC Board of Trustees unanimously voted on March 12 to approve Swank’s $25.8 million bid. The other bid, by Langlas & Associates, came in at $29.7 million. Four contractors had attended a pre-bid conference, but only Swank and Langlas submitted bids by the deadline.
The college launched its ONE Campaign in January 2018 to raise $18 million for the new college center. It completed the campaign 18 months later and launched an Encore Campaign to raise an additional $3 million to expand the performance hall to 1,000 seats, instead of the originally planned 750.
Swank’s bid came in about $2.5 million over the college’s projections, which FVCC President Jane Karas attributed in large part to due to economic instability caused by the global COVID-19 public health crisis. Karas said the college had already planned to continue to raise and borrow money to complete the project in any case. She added that plans allow for alternative features that can be accepted or rejected that “would allow us to shrink the difference.”
“With interest rates as low as they are and possibly going lower, I do think if the board decides to move forward with this, we will be able to certainly pay for this,” she said during board discussion on March 12. “If we postpone it for six months to a year, there’s no guarantee costs will be less. They could potentially be greater and interest rates could be higher, thus costing us more in the long run.”
The center is named after Paul Wachholz, the local businessman who donated $4 million to the project, which is slated to break ground this year.
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