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Construction firm has experience
Low bid to construct new NCI building on Baldwin Block

Monday, March 18, 2013

The construction firm that submitted the lowest bid for the New College Institute (NCI) project has much experience in building similar structures.

New Atlantic Contracting Inc. of Winston-Salem, N.C., bid $13,289,000 to construct the three-story, roughly 50,000-square-foot building on the Dana O. Baldwin Block in uptown Martinsville. The building, the first that would be built specifically for NCI, is to house new programs being developed by the institute in advanced manufacturing, innovation/entrepreneurism and health care. It also is to have administrative offices and public meeting space.

According to its website, New Atlantic has worked on various construction projects for higher education institutions, including many in the University of North Carolina system and the private Elon University in that state.

It also built the Sustainable Energy Technology Center (SENTEC) at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, which is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Averett University and Danville Community College.

SENTEC is a 25,000-square-foot research and development center aimed at helping to develop biology-based industries in Southside.

NCI’s new building is to be much like the SENTEC building in terms of design scales and construction materials, said NCI Executive Director William Wampler. Both are predominantly brick structures.

Dewberry, a Danville architectural firm, has worked on both projects.

New Atlantic Vice President of Business Development John Morrison said the company is excited about working with Dewberry again.

Morrison cited several other reasons for why it bid on the NCI building. They include the company handling more and more projects in southern Virginia, such as SENTEC and the new Meadows of Dan Elementary School under construction, as well as the NCI project being “a beautiful building with lots of different (design) elements,” he said.

New Atlantic also is interested in the NCI project because John R. “Ricky” Adkins, its president and chief operating officer, is a local native, Morrison said. Adkins’ parents live in Collinsville and he graduated from Fieldale-Collinsville High School in 1984.

Adkins, who was away from his office on Friday and could not be reached, is fond of Henry County-Martinsville and often has referred to the community as “his old stomping grounds,” Morrison said.

New Atlantic’s bid was based totally on NCI’s specifications for the building, and no changes were made to design plans to reduce the construction cost, according to Morrison and Wampler.

Wampler said a few minor changes have been made to design plans since they first were presented last April, such as adding and modifying space in some classrooms. The changes largely were based, he said, on suggestions from experts on fields in which NCI is developing new academic programs.

If New Atlantic’s bid is accepted, “we may offer some cost-saving ideas” to NCI as construction proceeds and such ideas are discerned, Morrison said.

That is a typical part of virtually any construction project, he said.

It will be up to the New College Foundation, the institute’s fundraising arm that is overseeing the project, to ultimately accept or reject New Atlantic’s bid. Wampler said he sees no reason why the bid would not be accepted.

Dewberry is reviewing the bid “to make sure it’s in its proper form,” he said. For instance, contractors’ bids were to include cost breakdowns for certain parts of the building as part of requirements for certain grants received.

“That’s no big deal,” Wampler said. “It just takes time” for the review to be done.

All parts of the building will be constructed simultaneously, he said.

The Harvest Foundation has committed up to $8 million for the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission is giving $5 million. The Appalachian Regional Commission is giving $500,000.

Private donations and other funding sources are being sought to cover the costs of construction and furnishings. Wampler has declined to discuss how much money has been raised privately.

Weather permitting, Wampler said, construction is expected to start around April and be completed in about a year.

Morrison said he thinks that is feasible.


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