October 11, 2018

CT Construction Digest Thursday October 11, 2018

Winsted school committee interviewing architects to renovate Hinsdale School

Leslie Hutchison
WINCHESTER — In the 18 months since the Mary P. Hinsdale Elementary School was closed, a group of residents, elected officials and construction experts have worked toward a plan to reopen the building and resume classes by fall 2019.
One of the most critical steps in the process begins this week when architectural firms that bid on the project will be interviewed by members of the Hinsdale Renovation Project Committee.
Five firms were chosen for interviews, Winchester Superintendent of Schools Melony M. Brady-Shanley said in an email. She noted that six firms were asked to clarify questions from the committee, and once that occurred, interviews with all but one of the responding firms were scheduled.
The first round of interviews will be held beginning at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The committee will conduct the interviews in succession with three firms: Friar Architecture of Farmington, Perkins Eastman of Stamford and QA+M Architecture, also of Farmington.                                                           
Interviews will resume Monday with two more firms: Sevigny Architects of Hartford, and Silver, Petrucelli & Associates Inc. of Hamden.
The total projected cost for the renovation project is $2.9 million, with the potential for state construction grants of $1.3 million for Phase 1, and about $933,000 for Phase 2.
The cost to update Hinsdale school is far less than the cost of building a new school, according to the facilities ad hoc committee, which was formed in 2017. It estimated that a new school building would cost up to $60 million and take as long as 10 years to build.
Facilities committee member Peter Marchand said its members compiled the original study based on what type of repairs were needed for both Hinsdale and Batcheller Early Childhood Center.
“Both schools were neglected for a number of years,” Marchand said.
He noted that the committee met with parents and talked about which school would provide the best learning environment.
Responses showed that Hinsdale was thought to be a better choice. “It was considered safer than Batcheller,” Marchand said. Hinsdale is also close to other schools, the committee noted, and is an easy walk from homes in the neighborhood.
Engineering reports also showed that a proposal to upgrade Batcheller school would be more expensive, coming in at about $3.5 million with the potential for about $1.7 million in grants.
Once the ad hoc committee submitted its report to the Board of Selectmen, its members suggested that a formal town committee be formed to oversee the next phase of the project. The result was the formation of the renovation committee, which began its work in July.
Before renovations can begin, however, the school district will continue to “gather accurate costs, projections, and a scope of work that would be reliable,” Brady-Shanley wrote.
She expects a special referendum will be called in late winter to allow residents to vote on whether they support issuing bonds to help pay for the project.
If the referendum were approved, the school would have an enrollment of about 300 students in pre-k to second grade, Brady-Shanley noted.

Middletown’s sewage pump station project 75 percent complete

Cassandra Day
MIDDLETOWN — Work on the East Main Street pump station, which by next summer will connect the city’s sewage to the Mattabassett District wastewater treatment plant in Cromwell, is about 75 percent complete.
The $55 million project, which broke ground in May 2014, is now in its second phase, and construction is estimated to wrap up by July 2019
Phase 1 involved installing a force main, or pressure pipe, from the area of Connecticut Rental Center, reaching all the way to Cromwell. Phase 2 is building the plant under Route 9 at Hartford Avenue on city land. Sanitary sewage will eventually be pumped from the Patnaude plant to the Mattabassett District, according to Water & Sewer Department Director Joe Fazzino.
The treatment facility processes waste from Middletown, New Britain, Cromwell and Berlin. In early 2013, the city paid $13 million to join the district.Voters first approved what would have been a $37 million project in 2012. In 2014, the common council approved an additional $3 million. In 2015, voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot question allocating an additional $15 million, bringing the total budget to $55 million.
The district recently spent close to $100 million on renovations. Updating the River Road facility would have been a lot more expensive than $55 million, Fazzino said.
Once work on Phase 2 — construction of the Francis T. Patnaude Inter-municipal Pumping Station — and decommissioning of the current River Road facility takes place, the city will finally be able to take advantage of its sweeping views of the Connecticut River and free up valuable real estate.
Mattabassett Regionalization Building Committee Chairman Phil Pessina is trying to contain his eagerness for what the project’s completion will mean for the riverfront. He and Planning Conservation and Development Director Joseph Samolis went up on the roof of the River Road facility recently to survey the area from that vantage point.
“It’s got a beautiful view of the riverbend and the riverfront. It is a key piece of where the mayor and council want to go with the harbor development. I’m getting really excited about it. I’m trying to hold my excitement down, because our ultimate goal is to get it within — and maybe under — budget,” Pessina said.
“Not only is this a unique and great project for both the Mattabassett District and our city, it opens up the gateway to our riverfront,” he said.
The decommissioning and demolition of the River Road facility will clear the way for Middletown to reclaim valuable riverfront property for leisure, recreation, entertainment and dining opportunities projected to boost local quality of life and even the city’s finances.
Joining the wastewater regionalization project is far less expensive than rehabilitating the city’s 40-year-old sewage treatment plant, Fazzino said. So far, project costs are at $33.73 million.
Presently, Phase 2 of the project is about two months behind schedule. That’s because the city had to go out to bid a second time after the first estimate came in over budget. The general contractor, Walsh Construction, based in Canton, Mass., is doing the work for $26.19 million.
“If the original bid was within budget, we would probably be finishing up right about now,” Fazzino said. Dale Aldieri, chairman of Middletown’s Water Pollution Control Authority, also sits on the building committee. He is pleased costs are close to the original estimate.
Another reason for the two-month delay, he said, was the builder laying the pipe had more difficulties than anticipated. “Underground piping of that sort is very technical, and we were dealing with, on a daily basis, guesstimates along the way. There’s really no exact science as to what’s underground and what you may encounter.”
The station is named for the late common councilman and deputy director of the water department who died in 2012. Patnaude, the city’s longest-serving councilman — took office in 1985 and sat on numerous commissions, including the Water Pollution Control Authority.
The architect’s plans include the installation of two relief panels on the front of the finished building — one for the city seal and the other, a bust of Patnaude that could be comprised of bronze or precast stone, Fazzino said.
What passersby see is only half of the facility’s operations. As is typical, a good portion of the equipment is set underground, including the pumps and pumping apparatus, Aldieri said.
Right now, crews, including electricians, plumbers, laborers and masons, are on site five or more days a week, excavating, installing the foundation and walls for the lower level, pouring concrete for the first-floor elevation slab (which is 30 feet above sea level), laying structural steel for the structures’s framing, and building the brick and concrete outer walls.
The new system will have the same capacity of 26 million gallons a day. All sewage from downtown, South Farms and other areas presently travels to the River Road facility by a combination of pump stations and gravity sewers. In the Westfield portion of town, waste already flows to the Mattabassett District, Fazzino said. Pessina hopes some portion of the decommissioning and machinery removal will happen simultaneously as the project approaches completion.
For information, visit mattabassettdistrict.org.

Natural gas project nears completion

Lynandro Simmons
DARIEN — An effort to bring natural gas to town may come to fruition by the end of the year.
“We’ve completed about two-thirds of the project work in Darien,” said Mitch Gross, spokesman for Eversource Connecticut.
With construction being weather dependent, a lot of the work has been slowed down in both Darien and its neighboring town New Canaan due to rain, Gross said.
The effort to install natural gas lines is a project that involves installing about four miles - approximately 21,000 feet - of underground pipe in the area of Noroton, West and Leroy avenues; Ledge, Middlesex and McLaren roads; Egerton Street, Hilton street and High School Lane. The project is estimated to cost $5.1 million. Natural gas lines have been installed in Darien High School, Middlesex Middle school and the town garage, which was recently renovated.
However, while the gas lines have been connected the system has not yet been turned on at Darien High School and Middlesex Middle School according to Gross.
“At Middlesex, the school district still needs to complete its work inside before we can provide the gas; and there’s work still to be done inside and outside of the high school,” he said.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said the goal is to have both Middlesex and Darien High school using the systems by winter this year.
Gross said with more than half of the project now completed, crews have begun working along Barringer Road to the Merritt Parkway. With the weather already causing some delays the estimated completion date for the project has changed from the original plan of being done by fall.
“If nature cooperates, our goal is to complete things by the end of the year,” Gross said.
 Stevenson said the project would help the town save money. Natural gas is cheaper than fuel oil and a significant amount of money is spent on heating oil for the town’s public buildings.
It will save the town money, the school system money and gas is considered to be a cleaner fuel from the environmental perspective if you will,” Stevenson said.
When the Noroton Heights redevelopment projects first became viable she found it important to bring Eversource to town to discuss how a potential natural gas project.
“They found with the redevelopment proposal there was a viable option for this,” she said. “Once we knew Eversource was willing to partner with us we began to look at other facilities that could also look to benefit from natural gas.”

New London high school project to get $10 million boost

Greg Smith
New London — A $98 million high school construction project is getting a much-needed $10 million boost in funding.
City Finance Director Don Gray said the state Department of Administrative Services has agreed to allow the city to use $10 million from a failed $31 million plan to locate an arts magnet school campus downtown at the Garde Arts Center.
It turns a $98 million project into a $108 million project.
Ninety-five percent of the $10 million will be reimbursed by the state, as opposed to the 80 percent reimbursement rate that applies to the rest of the project.
The infusion of funds eases concerns that the long-delayed magnet school construction project can now get underway. The money also will help make up for cost escalations and changes in plans through the years.
“Every year since it was approved, and because nothing has been built, we’ve probably lost $2 million a year,” Gray said. “This is basically getting us back to where we were before.”
Delays were caused when negotiations broke down between the school district and the Garde Arts Center for the downtown campus and $31 million in fully reimbursable funds were lost. Months were spent in an effort to recoup the money and apply it to what would become a revised high school project.
“I do believe we’re on the right track now,” Gray said. “We’re close to the point where we can put a lot of this stuff causing delays behind us. At least the taxpayers will be able to see some action going forward.”
While the state has offered money from the Garde Arts Center project in the past, up to $17 million, it always had come with a caveat that the city go back to taxpayers for authorization and an uncertain outcome.
The $10 million will not need taxpayer approval, since taxpayers already approved $110 million for the north campus when they voted in favor of borrowing $165 million for the project in 2014.
Gray said the extra money was added to the overall project for contingencies such as rejection of reimbursement for portions of the project, which is not altogether uncommon in projects of this scale, Gray said. The state reimburses the city only after the project is completed.
The downside to using the contingency money now is that any added costs will come back to the city later.
The north campus project technically started this year with a running track rehabilitation project at the high school. Construction of the buildings is not likely to start until 2020, or late 2019 if a more aggressive schedule is pursued.
The state Department of Education only recently approved of the school district’s operations plan for three magnet schools spread between two campuses.
The future north campus is at the current site of New London High School and the adjacent Science and Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut. The $49 million south campus project is located at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and the second phase of the overall project.
Under the current plan, students in sixth through 12th grades in the arts magnet pathway will attend school at the north campus. The same campus will accommodate high school students from the two other magnet themed schools: STEM and International Studies/International Baccalaureate.
The south campus will be home to middle schoolers in the STEM and International Studies/International Baccalaureate schools.
Conceptual designs for the north campus were drafted by Antinozzi Associates and await approval by the School Building and Maintenance Committee, said Diana McNeil, the senior project manager with the Capitol Region Education Council, which is overseeing the north campus project.
McNeil said the next stage is schematic designs. She called it a “good faith effort by the state” to revise the grant and allow access to $10 million and forward thinking by the city’s previous administration to build in “wiggle room” in the bond authorization that went to taxpayers.
McNeil said in a meeting on Tuesday with the DAS officials that they appeared pleased at the progress of the design of the project, a good sign moving forward.

Orthopedics group building $30M surgery center in Rocky Hill

Joe Cooper
Orthopedic Associates of Hartford (OAH), which operates surgical centers in Hartford, Glastonbury and Southington, has announced plans to replace its Rocky Hill surgery center with a new $30 million facility there.
OAH said it's currently constructing the 45,000-square-foot surgery center at 150 Enterprise Dr. with an expected completion date in early January. The facility will replace its 15-year-old surgical center at 1111 Cromwell Ave.
Dr. Pietro A. Memmo, the center's co-owner, assistant director and project manager, said the new center will be 40 percent larger than its existing facility. The facility, housing 600 square feet of operating rooms, will be equipped to manage over 100 cases per day and up to 15,000 cases annually.
The center will feature 25-plus rooms, including seven operating rooms, one procedure room and a full-service physical therapy center.
Memmo says patients prefer the convenience of outpatient venues because they are more cost-effective.
Surgeons at the facility will perform a variety of procedures including shoulder, knee and hip replacements, spine surgery, shoulder and knee arthroscopy, and hand, wrist elbow, foot and ankle surgery.
Several physicians who staff Hartford HealthCare's new Bone & Joint Institute are part of OAH. Meantime, a group of OAH surgeons perform procedures at St. Francis Hospital's Connecticut Joint Replacement Institute.

Ideanomics Closes on $5.2 Million Purchase Of Former UConn Campus In West Hartford

Ideanomics, formerly Seven Stars Cloud Group, closed the deal on its $5.2 million purchase of the 58-acre former UConn campus, the company announced Wednesday.The company looks to change the campus into a financial tech campus and the company’s global headquarters for technology and innovation, according to a media release from Ideanomics. The company plans to invest $283 million to develop fintech solutions through artificial intelligence and blockchain, and create 330 jobs.
“Fintech Village will stimulate the highest innovation by boasting the finest in urban design, sustainable and green technologies, and community connectivity factors,” the company said.
Ideanomics purchased the former UConn parcel for $5.2 million. Ideanomics, when it was known as Seven Stars Cloud Group, announced the purchase during a press conference at the Capitol in July.Co-CEO and Chairman of Ideanomics, Bruno Wu, said the company looks to “expand upon the original campus’ dedication to excellence by enhancing the efforts to educate” and create a campus “to attract top tier academic talent, companies, entrepreneurs, and innovators from around the world.”
Wu said the company is excited to be in West Hartford after the town was recently named one of Money Magazine’s 50 Best Communities in the Country. “We know that our Fintech Village will continue to enhance the image of West Hartford as a unique and vibrant community,’’ he said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy offered Ideanomics a $10 million incentive loan to renovate and retrofit existing buildings on campus. Similar loans have been provided to 17 other companies.
“The greater Hartford region is emerging as a hub for high-tech and innovation industries,” Malloy said in a statement Wednesday. “A commitment by a company like Ideanomics to establish their global headquarters for technology and innovation here in our state makes Connecticut an even more attractive place to live and work and will have an impact far beyond this one location in West Hartford.”
UConn’s Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer Scott Jordan said the university looks forward to working with Ideanomics on the transition of the property.
“It is fitting that the UConn West Hartford campus, which housed a renowned institution of higher education for decades, will soon become a world-class technology hub,” Jordan said. “We look forward to working with Ideanomics on the transition of this property and its exciting vision for the site becomes reality.”
Ideanomics hired Newman Architects, which renovated Hall and Conard high schools, to plan and design Fintech Village. Ideanomics said it will work closely with West Hartford officials so that the design and build-out of the property “is sensitive to the surrounding community and the environment.”
West Hartford Town Manager Matthew Hart said Wednesday that leaders are excited about Ideanomic potential.
Hart said the town has not received formal plans from Ideanomics but met with development representatives, the architect, land use attorney, and owner’s representative for construction in August.
“We’re just looking forward to learning more and sitting down with the owner’s team, hearing more about their plans so we can talk about the various permitting scenarios that would be available to them,” Hart said.