Alhambra Tries New Strategy on Clubhouse Cost

Times Staff Writer

When city officials opened bids for construction of a golf course clubhouse at Almansor Park last month, they were stunned by the offers: Each was at least $1 million higher than the $3.2 million predicted by architects.

The bids were so high that the project was in jeopardy, said City Manager Kevin Murphy.

But Murphy said he thinks the city has found a solution: Hire a contractor to manage the project for a flat fee, then hire subcontractors directly to do the construction.

Murphy said eliminating the general contractor's profit, which ranges up to 7% of the cost, will not save $1 million, but should make the project workable in combination with other money-saving measures.

Murphy said he will recommend Monday night that the City Council hire Robert Pipkin, a general contractor experienced in restaurant construction, to manage the project for $143,000. The fee would pay for a secretary and a construction trailer in addition to Pipkin's services.

Then, the clubhouse construction would be divided into 25 separate contracts for bidding.

Murphy said this strategy entails some risk: the subcontract bids could be higher than expected, just as the overall construction bids exceeded predictions last month. But, Murphy said, other cities have hired project managers instead of awarding bids to general contractors, and say they saved money.

In addition, Murphy said the city has revised plans for the clubhouse to eliminate frills. He described the changes as the equivalent of downgrading a deluxe hotel to a standard motel. For example, he said, instead of custom chandeliers, the clubhouse will have chandeliers chosen from a catalogue.

The design changes should save $400,000 to $500,000 without any reduction in the size of the clubhouse, Murphy said.

The 30,000 square-foot structure will include a 600-seat banquet room, a 132-seat restaurant, a 160-seat cocktail lounge, a snack bar and a pro shop. David Perrin and Kenneth Dennis will run the banquet and restaurant rooms under a 25-year concession agreement that will give the city a percentage of gross receipts.

Murphy said the site is being graded under a $340,000 contract. In addition to the clubhouse construction, the project includes parking lot improvements estimated at $750,000. The city is financing the project through the sale of $5 million worth of bonds.

Murphy said completion of the clubhouse is scheduled for next May or June.

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