The board unanimously voted at a special teleconference meeting to award the contract to the lowest bidder, River City Construction LLC of East Peoria, Ill.
The bidding opened July 18, said Kathy Mangels, vice president of finance and administration with the university. Six bids were received, and she said four were within $650,000 of each other.
Based on the lowest bid, she said the total project cost would be just short of $25 million -- higher than the university expected. She said architects and engineers that have been working with the university since the project began last October explained that costs for certain materials had escalated, resulting in a higher cost.
The board in February approved issuing bonds to finance the project. Mangels said the total funding from those bonds was about $23.6 million, leaving a shortfall of about $1.4 million.
The university has done "value engineering," she said, to cut costs and keep the project within budget. Mangels said meetings also have been held with the architects and River City Construction to come up with more cost-cutting ideas.
The university will cover the remaining shortfall by using funding from previous construction projects that were completed under budget, Mangels said. These sources total $3.5 million, she said, which would cover the shortfall and allow for an 8.5 percent project contingency.
Mangels said she believes River City Construction, which has in the past performed renovations for the university, has a full understanding of the project and will not experience any major problems in construction.
"They did renovations for Magill Hall, so they've worked with aggressive time frames and are familiar with doing work while keeping part of the building open," she said. "I feel comforted that we've really gone through a lengthy value engineering process and the contractor can meet the time frame and do quality work."
Mangels also said the construction company will subcontract work such as painting and paving to local contractors.
Once the expansion is finished, the 93,745-square-foot, three-story building will house enough space for 184 beds, a dining space that seats 120 people, 13 faculty offices and studios for art and dance. The university hopes to have the project finished by July or August of 2014.
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