Centre’s newest housing facility nearing completion; several local businesses are helping

Published 7:01 pm Friday, April 19, 2019

After nearly a year of construction, Centre College’s newest and largest residence hall project is nearing completion with the help of many local businesses and contractors.

Centre’s Chief Financial Officer Brian Hutzley said the college wanted to use as many local suppliers as possible. But when he read the list, he was surprised to see just how many were located in central Kentucky.

ARCO is the construction firm that’s managing the project — a three-story, 66,500-square-foot, brick, 176-bed student housing facility that’s bordered on the west, north and east sides by Louise Street, McMillian Street and Rowe Street, respectively, on the north side of campus.

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It’s the fifth construction project ARCO has completed for Centre College.

A small mock-up of a window and brick wall stands near the construction site. Photo by Robin Hart.

Hutzley said when meetings were held with ARCO, Centre officials wanted to make sure local firms had the opportunity to compete with national businesses vying for subcontracts for the project.

“There’s a lot of reasons we wanted to keep it local,” Hutzley said. It’s something the college has done with previous construction projects, too. Centre’s facilities and procurement staff have good relationships with businesses they’ve worked with in the past, he explained.

“Centre does not have to go with the low bid. A lot of these are companies and firms we’ve worked with before, and there’s a reason. We want to make sure that they get a chance at it because they’ve been good to us,” Hutzley said.

He said Centre also wanted to have local contractors because, “What happens if there’s a problem a year from now? We have good partnerships with a lot of these companies because they’ll come back and fix stuff if something wasn’t right. You’re not going to get that from someone out of Cincinnati or St. Louis or Chicago. These firms are competitive, but these local firm offer a lot too.”

In order for some local businesses to compete, Hutzley said he worked to negotiate bids so that they consisted of the same quality and quantity of materials. “I made sure it was apples to apples bidding.”

For example, ARCO wanted to purchase all of the carpeting from a national firm to get the best price, Hutzley said. So he talked with Major’s Floor Covering in Danville and he said, “If you can meet this national firm’s best price, the project is yours.”

There are 15 businesses from Boyle, Mercer, Garrard and Lincoln counties that have ties to the residence hall project, he said. They include McGlone Construction, Todd Johnson Contracting, Danny’s Termite and Pest Control, Arnold Glass, Wiley Electric, Lincoln County Ready Mix, McAfee Mowing, USA Signs, Woodford Oil, Caldwell Stone, Foster Supply, Vantage Engineering and Campbell’s Sanitation. Forty-seven other companies from Lexington, Louisville, Nicholasville and Campbellsville are also working here.

During the months of construction, there will be at least 500 workers in Danville, Hutzley said. “They’re eating food. They’re buying gas” in town, he noted.

Centre College’s newest student housing building is more than 66,0000-square feet and will have room for 176 students. Photo by Robin Hart.

Hutzley said the student housing facility is larger than Pearl Hall, which faces West Main Street. People living in the homes facing the dormitory may think it’s bigger than they imagined, even though they were shown plans for the structure and its landscaping. Hutzley himself lives on Fifth Street near the structure and said when he looks out his window, he’s even a bit surprised to see how large it is.

“We’re doing everything we can to be good neighbors,” Hutzley said. For instance, trees and berms will help prevent car lights from shining into the homes. And parking lot lights will be directional, shining down, and not outward like most other street lights Hutzley said.

The plan is for the building to be completed by the end of July so that students can move in, in August, Hutzley said.

The large and modern housing facility is important for the college to maintain its student population and even allow it to grow, Hutzley explained. “There’s a lot of competition and housing is a big part of it. … Students and their parents have higher and higher expectations, and we’re lucky to be able to build something so nice.”

Because the construction site is on a former soccer field, “You’d think it was a perfect spot to put a building, until you realize it was full of stuff put back there in the ‘70s and ‘80s to fill it for a soccer field. Underneath that, there was really, really hard limestone,” that had to be drilled through, which slowed down construction.

Hutzley said he could call the project “Mud, Sweat and Tears,” because of the number of rain days that also slowed work on the project.

Or, he said, maybe a better name would be “Rock and Rain.”