Friday, January 08, 2016

Oconee County Commissioners Accept $3.35 Million Bid For Construction Of Parkway Boulevard Extension

Funding Unclear

The Oconee County Board of Commissioners this morning approved a $3.35 million contract with Simpson Trucking and Grading Company of Gainesville for construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension.

The three-lane road will run from the current terminus of Parkway Boulevard just west of Kohl’s department store to opposite an existing entrance to Epps Bridge Centre and is to be open by September of 2016.

Total cost for the roadway, including right of way acquisition, is expected to run to $3.9 million, and Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis said the county does not know at present how it is going to pay for the road project.

Oconee 316 Associates LLC submitted a rezone concept plan to the county for what it called Epps Bridge Centre II on Dec. 28, and those plans include a 146,290-square-foot retail store with a fuel center similar to what Costco might use.

Oconee 316 Associates LLC does not have Costco under contract, according to Atlanta developer and company owner Frank Bishop.

Funding Options

Davis called for public comment before the vote, and citizen Sarah Bell asked how the project was going to be funded.

Beshara, Second From Left

Davis hesitated and then said “That is yet to be negotiated or discussed with our finance department, development authority and others related to that particular decision.”

“The overall amount of money being spent is something the county can handle,” Commissioner John Daniell said.

“The return on investment calculated here is very strong and a very quick turnaround,” Daniell added.

Bishop Email

Bishop told me in an email message this afternoon that “We do not have Costco under contract at this point.”

Costco is a membership-only warehouse club headquartered in Issaquah, Washington, near Seattle.

Bishop said “we do have other national retailers interested in this area of Oconee County.”

The rezone concept plan submitted to the county for Epps Bridge Centre II shows 12 buildings in addition to the large anchor for a total of just less than 372,000 square feet spread across 51 acres.

Additional Development

Construction of Parkway Boulevard Extension will open up about 190 acres of wooded land for future develop.

Included is a 114-acre tract owned by the Evelyn and Frank Gordy Family.

Epps Bridge Centre II would be at the front of the Gordy Family property.

The large retail building with the fuel station shown on the rezone concept plan fronts on Plaza Parkway, which connects the Oconee Connector with Jennings Mill Road.

Additional Bids

Emil Beshara, Oconee County Public Works director, told the commissioners this morning that the county had received five bids, ranging in price from $6.6 million to the low bid by Simpson.

Beshara said he had checked the details of the Simpson bid, which was almost $700,000 below the next highest bid, to make sure the pricing was accurate.

Beshara said there might be some adjustments to the design to elevate the road at some points and that could result in additional cost.

Commissioner Jim Luke missed most of the meeting this morning and was not present when the vote was taken. The three voting commissioners present all approved the Simpson contract. Davis does not vote unless there is a tie.

Video Of Discussion

The meeting was held in the Grand Jury Room of the Courthouse, not in the regular chambers of the Commission.

Both Bell and I video recorded the session, each shooting from a different angle in the oddly configured room.

Bell shot the video below, which is of the entire discussion of the Parkway Boulevard Extension.

Seated, left to right, are Commissioner William "Bubber" Wilkes, Beshara, consultant Bill Ross and Planning Director B.R. White.

Davis and Daniell are off camera but can be heard speaking, in that order, at the end of the clip following the question by Bell about funding for the project.

OCO: Parkway Boulevard from Lee Becker on Vimeo


Anonymous said...

"Total cost for the roadway, including right of way acquisition, is expected to run to $3.9 million, and Board of Commissioners Chairman Melvin Davis said the county does not know at present how it is going to pay for the road project."

-Almost no discussion by commissioners with the public on this project!!!

-$4 million, and Melvin and the commissioners don't know where its coming from???

-How many of the properties in question does Jamie Boswell represent???

-If out of county carpetbagger developer Frank Bishop wants this road...Let Him Pay For It?

-Where is the outrage from conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers for this clear form of government welfare?

Beanne said...

You are so right Anonymous. This happened so fast with so little public knowledge or discussion. $4,000,0000 sounds like a big number to me, but what Mr. Bishop wants, Mr. Bishop gets because we want that sales tax income and are willing to pave over all the woods and damage all the streams to get it.