During a special called meeting Tuesday, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen received notice that the low bidder for the project, Armstrong Construction, had withdrawn its bid.
Armstrong Construction's bid of $1.82 million received last August was about $1 million more than the city has available to pay for the project. The company had been working with the city to divide the project into two phases and reduce the cost.
In a letter dated last week to project architect Michael Emrick, Armstrong Construction President Leland Leonard stated that he still hadn't received information from Emrick's engineer necessary to move the project forward.
"We have done all we have been asked to do at a real cost to us," Leonard stated in the letter. "The time frame has been ongoing since we bid the project on Aug. 9, 2006 - over five months. Prices have increased on roofing, lumber, drywall, trim and electrical items, just to name a few. Regretfully we can no longer reserve manpower for your project, as we must pursue other work for our employees.
"As per the bid documents we were to honor our bid for a period of 45 days following the scheduled date of bid opening, which we have done."
Rogersville Mayor Jim Sells said Wednesday the loss of the Armstrong Construction bid will probably set the project back at least three months while the city begins the bidding process again. With the construction cost increases, the new bids are likely to be higher, Sells added.
In 2004 the Rogersville Heritage Association was awarded a Tennessee Department of Transportation tourism grant amounting to $932,965 including the 20 percent local match. Sells said there's still a little bit less than $900,000 remaining in that fund for the project.
The only good news with regard to Armstrong Construction's withdrawal is that the project can now be advertised for bids in two phases. The first phase mainly involves renovations to the kitchen and dining room, as well as demolition in the upstairs suites in preparation for phase two.
The city has applied for additional grant funds to help pay for the second phase.
"One positive thing we've accomplished over the past few months is finding ways to lower the cost of the project by cutting some aspects, using less expensive materials, and having city workers and the Heritage Association performing some of the work," Sells said. "When we advertise for bids this time it's going to be done right, and hopefully we're going to get back some numbers we can work with."