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Cayuga County Legislature approves revised project estimates for Fulton Campus expansion, theatre project in downtown Auburn

DATE: 09-27-2011

On Tuesday night, the Cayuga County Legislature unanimously approved the revised project estimates for the expansion of the Fulton Campus expansion and the Schwartz Family Performing Arts Center in Auburn.

The estimates for the Fulton campus project have been revised from $11.23 million to $16.1 million, mostly due to the time required to purchase the former P&C building, the $990,000 purchase cost of the building itself (not included in the concept budget), and the additional space now added to the original concept design.

During the fourteen months elapsed from concept design to schematic design, the College continued to experience increases in Fulton enrollment. The original drawing included a partial second floor of 21,000 square feet, but the growing need for more instruction and student support space resulted in the second floor being increased by nearly 10,000 square feet to accommodate ten more classrooms.

Because the property sat vacant for so long, mold on some floor and wall surfaces now requires remediation. The $530,000 expense for thermal improvement to exterior building walls, originally conceived as a separate project, was added to reduce energy bills and to be less disruptive to College operations later.

The cost estimate for the design, development, and construction of the Schwartz Family Performing Arts Center rose from $4.9 million to $7.7 million, primarily due to the complex and challenging nature of this historic downtown site. The project scope remains the same: a 384-seat proscenium stage with a full fly gallery.

The three primary drivers of this increase are:

Nearly doubled actual construction costs due to site issues revealed after demolitionTransition from privately financed to publically bid, and thus mandated to pay prevailing wages with multiple construction contracts under Wicks LawCosts for services and fees increased from $400,000 to $1.1 million due to the addition of theatrical and acoustic consultants, a construction manager to handle the multiple contractors, and architectural and construction management fees

"I am pleased to know that the legislators recognize that the changes to the original project estimates do not diminish the significant return on taxpayer investment," College President Daniel P. Larson said. "For the theatre, the return is part of an estimated $30 million impact in annual revenue from ticket sales, dining, lodging, and activities related to the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival. For Fulton, the return is an estimated 300% direct and indirect return from increased student enrollment, in the form of increased revenue from tuition and chargeback income, a better-educated workforce, and social services savings."

For the theatre project, New York State will contribute 50 percent and the Musical Theatre Festival will cover the 50 percent local share. For the Fulton Campus expansion project, the state will pay for 50 percent of the costs and Cayuga County as the College's local sponsor will contribute the remaining 50 percent.

The College a robust credit balance with the county—more than $500,000 in capital chargeback revenue that has been accruing interest for the county. That money can only be used for College capital projects such as the Fulton expansion and downtown theatre.

The next step is to submit the revised plans to the SUNY Board of Trustees for approval.

Once the College receives SUNY approval, it will send the Fulton Campus project to bid at the end of next month, with work continuing throughout winter, so the space is ready for classes by fall 2012. The theatre is expected to be complete in time for the opening of the summer 2013 season of the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival.