Cape Coral City Council is expected to decide Monday whether it will award a contract to expand the city's Emergency Operations Center at a cost of more than $850,000.
Bonita Springs-based Gates Butz Institutional Construction submitted the lowest responsible bid, $778,859, out of the nine companies who bid for the project.
The total tally is $856,745 with the additional cost ($77,886) an earmarked 10 percent contingency, standard with most city projects, to cover unexpected problems.
"The way bidding is set up, it goes to the lowest bidder. If you can get bonding for the project and meet the criteria, you get the project," said John Hayes, vice president of Gates Butz.
The second-lowest bidder, Compass Construction of Cape Coral, qualified for local vendor preference because its bid was within 10 percent at $811,555, but chose not to match the low bid, which was $40,696 less.
Gates has built Patriot Elementary and Challenger Middle schools in Cape Coral, but this would be the first project with the city.
Gates also is the general contractor of the Lee County EOC which is near completion.
"We were anxious to be a part of this. It's been good working for the county," Hayes said. "When we saw it, we decided to take a run at it."
The addition is expected to be able to withstand Category 5 hurricane conditions and sustain fire and emergency services.
Hayes said that since the addition will have the basic infrastructure, the project won't be so complicated and should be completed quickly, perhaps six months.
The expansion will be used to house offices for not only EOC purposes, but for the Fire Department. It will allow rooms such as media rooms and pantries that became offices to return to their intended use.
The 4,353-square-foot expansion would be funded by revenue generated by the county's All Hazard Fund, which can only be used for emergency management situations.
No money from the general fund would be used.
"We designed it as a pressure-cooker environment for hurricanes. The square footage had a purpose," said Tom Tomich the department's division chief of operations. "We needed to readjust. We could add on in the back of the building within the envelope of high pressure, but add office space to run the EOC and Fire."
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said the city has $1 million in seed money set aside. He said the project began several years ago with grandiose plans costing millions.
But with the economy, delays and the cost of construction going down, the project got pared down to $800,000.
"The expansion is overdue. It's on the consent agenda because most of the council members have seen it pared down from loftier visions," McGrail said. "It's more efficient. It takes minimum space to do the job."
The EOC itself had a $1.5 million plan before being pared almost in half, Tomich said.
"This is seven or eight years in the making. We realized we can run administration and still be in concert during hurricane season."