GREENBELT – The long-awaited opening of the Old Greenbelt Theatre may be on hold again, according to city officials, because the contractor still needs to finish the renovations City Manager Michael McLaughlin said the opening has been pushed back to mid-April. Last month, McLaughlin told The Sentinel he expected the contractor to complete the renovations […]
GREENBELT – The long-awaited opening of the Old Greenbelt Theatre may be on hold again, according to city officials, because the contractor still needs to finish the renovations
City Manager Michael McLaughlin said the opening has been pushed back to mid-April. Last month, McLaughlin told The Sentinel he expected the contractor to complete the renovations in mid-March, with a grand opening taking place on March 27.
However, at Monday night’s Mayor and Council meeting Jim Sterling, acting director of public works for the city, said the contractor, Gardiner and Gardiner, has requested $151,241 in change orders. Originally, the change orders totaled just more than $200,000, but Gardiner and Gardiner handled the painting of the exterior of the theater which the city had budgeted as a separate project. However, the additional funds, which the council approved 6-1, present a 14 percent increase from the original contract and brings the total cost of the project to $1.27, according to McLaughlin. The council chose not to approve a contingency budget for the project; something that Mayor Pro Tem Judith Davis said has cost the city.
“I hope this never happens again. When we do a big project like this, I hope we include a contingency budget. I know we’ve had contingency budgets before. To not have it on this one is probably a very big mistake. But it’s done, we’ll take care of it, but in the future (we need one).”
Sterling said delays have occurred because the contractor found asbestos and lead in the walls. The architect also experienced “hiccups,” he said, and had to redesign the plans a couple of times.
The purchase of lights and permitting issues also led to delays.
The latest problem, Sterling said, has been putting in new doors. The contractor purchased doors from Canada and they were supposed to have arrived two weeks ago. Originally, Sterling said he expected the installation of the doors to take four to six weeks, but it has now taken eight weeks. Additionally, the door frames have not arrived and painting cannot be completed until the frames have been installed.
McLaughlin said Gardiner and Gardiner did not order the doors until the end of February.
“If they had placed the orders in January they would probably be here,” McLaughlin said.
The city also had to restore the tiling in the Terrazzo floor, Sterling said, and decided to add an acoustic ceiling to the foyer area.
“One of the challenges on the project has been trying to make things not appear industrial and to appear how they would have back in 1937,” Sterling said. “With a structure like that you have solid concrete. So the decision was made to put in the acoustic ceiling.”
McLaughlin said the city will not ask for any money from the architect, GTM Architects, or the general contractor because of the delay with the doors. Instead, he said, the city proposed the council take the money out of the fund balance to complete the work along with the rest of the renovations that need to be completed.
The doors that are currently on the theater need a handicap closure mechanism, McLaughlin said, in order to be approved by the county.
“What we’ve got right now are essentially like closet doors,” McLaughlin said. “Could we adapt them by putting hardware on them? Would that be a Band-Aid approach until the doors come? If they say yes then that probably gets us open a week or two earlier.”
Right now, without the doors, McLaughlin said, the building is scheduled for a soft opening of the end of April and a grand opening in the middle of May.