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UHD expansion project grows in scope, price tag

By Staff | Apr 13, 2009

Only one construction project has grown in size, but both have increased in cost.

That was the news United Hospital District boardmembers received on Tuesday.

UHD administrator Jeff Lang says the price tag for the hospital campus expansion is now closer to $19 million, a jump of about $3 million since September.

And, cost of a new adolescent treatment center in Winnebago has gone from $3.6 million to $4.3 million.

Square footage of the campus project also has expanded from 44,000 square feet to 56,140. But, size of the treatment center has been pared to 17,500 square feet from the initial 19,500.

Lang says construction costs for the hospital portion increased $4 million since September, so he asked the architectural company for the project to trim “low-hanging fruit” to bring the price down.

“When we found that information out we said, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s too much,'” says Lang.

Right now the total for both projects is around $23 million, but Lang expects a 10 percent reduction for the hospital portion and 5 percent for the treatment center.

Lang says a hospital project in Algona, Iowa, cost 12 percent less than estimated and Owatonna’s was 20 percent lower.

“We feel pretty comfortable on making that leap of faith,” says Lang.

The board approved a preliminary budget of $21 million for the projects. UHD is planning to allocate $10.75 million in cash.

Boardmember Larry Anderson wanted to make sure taxpayers don’t get stuck with any part of the bill.

Anderson made a motion the board go on record it’s not their intent to increase taxes to fund either project.

“If we are going to put our taxpayers at risk and on the hook for any revenue shortfalls, I’ll vote against that,” he says.

Anderson pointed out that language in a covenant of two other projects stated the hospital district could levy if revenue bonds were not enough.

Rebecca Sanders, an architect with HGA, presented information on both projects to boardmembers.

One of the changes Sanders touched on was the helipad.

She says it will be moved closer to the roof’ access door and it is actually a helistop, because helicopters will not refuel there.

Sanders and state transportation officials are working on ways to protect patients from the elements.