District 21 board approves construction bids for new $17 million administration building
Wheeling Township Elementary District 21 board members Thursday unanimously approved $12.7 million in construction bids for a new district headquarters down the block from their cramped, 1960s-era administration center.
But the all-in construction cost, including contingencies and other items, is closer to $17 million. That's about 8% to 10% higher than initial estimates, said district officials, who attributed the increase primarily to current problems with the supply chain and resulting costs.
"Anybody following construction knows what's going on right now," said board member Arlen Gould.
But Gould agreed with the district staff that the bid process was competitive, and he added that property taxes won't go up to pay for the three-story, 42,558-square-foot structure.
The building, to be named the Community Service Center and Administrative Building, is part of the planned 11.5-acre London Crossing development on the south side of Dundee Road west of Elmhurst Road. It will be a short move from the district's longtime home in the Gill Administration Center.
In addition to school administrative offices and meeting rooms, the new building will host social service agencies and medical providers. Elsewhere on the site, a small shopping center, a lot for a free-standing restaurant, and 11 townhouse buildings containing 55 total units are proposed.
The redevelopment is being led by Mount Prospect-based Wingspan Development Group. Wingspan's sister company, Nicholas & Associates, is the construction manager on District 21 capital projects and oversaw the bid process for the new administration building.
Micheal DeBartolo, the district's assistant superintendent for finance and operations, acknowledged the price has gone up since the original cost estimate in March. But he noted it's slightly less than later estimates, once architectural drawings had started, which put the number closer to $18 million.
Through the planning and design process, DeBartolo said, some things were added and others subtracted from the plans.
Costs also rose by adding a raised roof to the third-floor board room, a stairwell to the roof for moving equipment, a second elevator to improve traffic flow, and aesthetic changes requested as part of the village zoning process, DeBartolo said.
But planners also took out other items, like special tiles in the bathrooms, he added.
"We did sharpen our pencils," DeBartolo said. "It's a very responsible bid package and one that I'm very proud to recommend."
The district will pay for construction through a mix of reserves and borrowing. In July, the school board approved issuing $11 million worth of debt certificates to be paid back over a 15-year period by using general state aid and other state and federal sources officials are pursuing.
DeBartolo and school board President Phil Pritzker said local property taxes wouldn't be used to pay off that debt.
"For this reason, property taxes to our community members will not go up," Pritzker said. "They may go up for other reasons, of course, but not because of this project."