South Orange Weighs Proposals for Village Hall, Website Design

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South Orange is currently evaluating bids it received for two key projects in the Village: the renovation or sale of historic Village Hall, and the design of a new website for the township.

There were four responses to the RFPs (requests for proposals) for Village Hall renovations, said Township Administrator Barry Lewis, Jr. on Wednesday, with bids ranging from $5,622,000 to $7,777,000. The lowest bid was “right in line with our estimate,” said Lewis.

After the architect and construction manager review the bids they will offer a recommendation. The Village will then compare the bids to the two they previously received for the sale and adaptive reuse of the building to determine which direction to take.

“We are trying to crystallize and finalize the adaptive reuse bids, and see which [option] presents the better opportunity,” said Lewis. That process should be completed within the next two months. The Trustees and Village President  have been apprised of the bids, and the public will be updated at the March 23 BOT meeting.

The Village decided last summer to reexamine the idea of selling Village Hall; the last time it explored that option in 2011 it did not receive any bids, but with the changing real estate market trustees agreed to try again. The bidding for both renovation and reuse have been taking place concurrently as the Village continues to renovate the aging structure.

Village Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the RFP for sale includes a mandatory requirement that the building’s exterior be preserved and restored in compliance with a historic preservation easement that forbids the building’s demolition. The exterior is in need of “substantial rehabilitation,” according to the RFP.

Meanwhile, the Village received a total of six responses to the RFP issued to redesign the municipal website; four bidders were deemed qualified and are in the running, said Lewis.

The bids ranged widely, with the lower bids coming in at $9,700 and $13,500, and the high bidders at roughly $44,000 and $50,000. Lewis said the township will review bidders’ previous experience designing and building websites and their technical ability to carry out the job.

As the bids have not yet been closely examined, Lewis could not speculate on why they were so vastly disparate in price. The public will be apprised of the bids at the BOT’s meeting in April.

For more background on the website design, see this previous article.

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