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Selection Committee for Hopkins project construction manager outlines strategy

by | Jan 3, 2024 | Education, Featured: Education

On Wednesday, the Hopkins Lower Middle School Project Construction Manager Selection Committee met to review the request for proposals document for a construction manager to work on an addition and renovations to the Hopkins School.

Town Meeting will be asked to vote on the $49.7 million project in May. Unlike the new Elmwood School, the addition/renovation work is not eligible for reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

The 28,000-square foot addition would include a gym, a multi-purpose athletic room, an expanded cafeteria and kitchen, space for music classrooms and an intensive special education room.

Hopkins School will house Grades 5-6 when the new Elmwood School is finished, as the new Elmwood will include Grade 4. Hopkins has been facing overcrowding, with the building intended for 628 students forecasted to reach a population of approximately 800 kids.

Jeff D’Amico, Vertex’s vice president, noted that the estimated construction cost is $38.3 million. He said the originally cited 28-month schedule has been reduced to two years. The applicants for construction manager may come back with shorter or longer time frames in mind, which will have to be evaluated along with other merits, D’Amico said.

He also pointed out that “swing spaces” would have to be used while the cafeteria/kitchen space is offline, likely for seven months when the addition is substantially completed and renovations begin.

The addition is expected to be done by February 2026 before moving on to the renovations portion.

The manager and the team the committee is seeking would provide services during pre-construction and construction phases. If Town Meeting does not approve the project, pre-construction would cease and the town would not be bound to the construction phase fee, D’Amico said.

The board is hoping to conduct interviews with candidates on Feb. 8, determine the highest rank proposer on Feb. 12, finalize the contract by Feb. 26 and start pre-construction work on Feb. 27.

D’Amico noted that one of the interested five firms did not attend a prior site visit, although it was not mandatory to do so.

Another site visit is planned next week.

D’Amico stressed the importance of asking project-specific questions in the request for proposals (RFPs).

“We’re trying to suss out who is the best fit for Hopkinton,” he said.

To that end, applicants will be asked for a two-page document, reacting to the schematic drawings and drafting a phasing, logistics plan on how they would deliver the project.

“We’re looking to see how specific they are and want to know if they can think outside of the box,” D’Amico added.

For example, the firms would have to demonstrate how they would accommodate parent/pupil drop-offs and 13 buses in two waves of pickups, have staff and visiting parking available, and keep outdoor spaces open for physical education and recreation while work is going on.

Vertex project manager Chris Eberly noted although the applicants are being given a lot of information to digest, it is important to limit the scope enough to not “go overboard.”

“The goal is to get input and see how tech-savvy they are,” he added. “Are they going to scratch the surface or dive deep?”

D’Amico said the candidates will be asked to talk about past experiences on projects with occupied renovations to adjacent construction and phased openings.

“We care more about the key players, the team and not the firm,” D’Amico added. Candidates will be rated on written, oral and financial responses and not via a numerical scoring system.

The categories will be “most advantageous,” “advantageous” and “least advantageous.”

During the Feb. 8 interviews, each candidate will be allowed an hour to give a presentation and answer questions.

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