North Wilkesboro commissioners unanimously approved a $2.26 million bid Thursday for the construction for a 500,000-gallon water storage tower tank in the town-owned Wilkes Industrial Park.
The winning bidder is Avon, Ind.-based Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors LLC. It was the only bid received when bids were opened on Nov. 18. The town received two bids on Nov. 4 but had to readvertise the bid because it did not receive at least three bids, as is required on such projects by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
The approval is considered tentative because the town will not enter into a contract with Phoenix until the bid is approved by DEQ and the town receives final approval by the Local Government Commission for a low-interest revolving water fund loan.
Based on a preliminary engineering report generated by Charlotte-based Kimley-Horn Inc., the town expected the bid to be around $2.1 million. Town Manager Wilson Hooper said Thursday that Phoenix’s bid was “a little bit higher than we expected, but honestly I wasn’t that surprised because with low-interest rates the manufacturing sector is hot right now, which probably led to the higher than expected bid.”
Hooper said the good news for the town is that “the slightly higher than expected bid will be offset by those very same low interest rates.” The town will be paying out about $5,000 more per year than it was expecting, he added.
Based on the accepted bid, the town’s contribution to the project is expected to be $1.48 million, paid back over several decades with water/sewer collections. Two economic development grants make up the rest of the funding: a $580,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the N.C. Department of Commerce and $200,000 from the Golden LEAF Foundation.
The CDBG federal funding was awarded to help Charlotte-based JELD-WEN Inc. undertake an $8 million expansion of its door-skin (exterior facing) manufacturing operation in the industrial park and add at least 29 jobs.
Phoenix is expected to start construction of the multicolumn, 140-foot-tall tower in the spring of 2021 and finish the project in the spring of 2022. Wilson said the Kimley-Horn indicated to him that Phoenix is a “reputable and experienced firm that has recently constructed similar tanks in other parts of North Carolina.”
The water tank is designed provide better water pressure for fire safety sprinkler systems at JELD-WEN and elsewhere in the industrial park and improve hydraulics of the town water system from River Road-Liberty Grove Road to N.C. 268 East. That area is currently served by an elevated storage tank and 12-inch water main off Flint Hill Road.
The town hired Kimley-Horn to create the engineering report, manage the state approval process and conduct the construction bidding process. The town also hired Garner-based McAdams & Associates to manage the funding and grant applications.
A project delay of about two months resulted from permits being submitted to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration because the tank is within two miles of the Wilkes County Airport.
The work session Thursday was held in-person at the Stone Center off Cherry Street and remotely via Zoom.