The cost of the public downtown garage under construction could now reach more than $4.8 million, Sumter City Council members discovered during their meeting Tuesday night.
Designed specifically to support a private hotel being developed by a company owned by the several of the same stakeholders as the construction company, the potential price of garage was revealed as council members considered a resolution approving the cost.
Added to the otherwise light city council agenda late Monday afternoon – roughly 35 minutes before a 24-hour deadline – the resolution, in effect, amended the contract between the City of Sumter and Thompson Turner Construction, establishing a guaranteed maximum price of the garage of more than $4.65 million, but with an additional five percent variance clause to allow for any unforeseen costs, which could raise the price to more than $4.8 million.
While construction on the parking garage – and the $12 million hotel it has been designed to support – has already begun, Tuesday vote provided city council members the opportunity to reject the garage’s price tag and effectively withdraw the city from the project.
“If you don’t except it, the contraction essentially goes away, and we don’t have to be committed to the project,” city attorney Eric Shytle told the council while presenting the resolution for consideration.
This price tag includes the estimated $300,000 already been spent on the project via design and preliminary costs, Shytle said, adding city staffers had also hired an outside firm to evaluate the fair market value of the project, which had found the costs were in line with what would be expected for such an undertaking.
“The city manager and I met with Thompson for hours going through line by line,” Eric Shytle said of the project’s budget. “At staff, we have a lot of comfort in these numbers.”
Ultimately, all six of the council members in attendance – councilman Robert Galiano was absent – approved the presented price tag.
City councilman David Merchant highlighted that the price of the garage was slightly elevated due to it being designed for potential future growth. While current plans have the garage having two floors, it has been designed to already have the supports in place to add additional floors in the future, if warranted.
Construction on the garage at the corner of West Hampton Avenue and North Sumter Street actually began March 1, with the city announcing the160-space parking lot formally housed at the location would be closed until further notice. Instead, city officials are directing downtown drivers to other lots throughout the area.
Back in September, Sumter City Council approved a bond for up to $4.5 million to pay for the construction of the multi-level parking garage to primarily support the proposed 93-room Hyatt branded hotel. During his presentation of the resolution, Shytle said city officials had the bond money, and expected it to earn enough interest to cover recently unveiled price tag.
Approval of the garage price tag wasn’t the only city council action involving the Thompson brand Tuesday night. Through another approved resolution, the city agreed to sell approximately 500 square feet of city owned property behind 31 North Main Street to Thompson Holdings.
The sale of the additional land behind the building that most recently housed Angel’s Restaurant for $2,000 was made to allow Thompson Holdings to expand the location as they, according to the council documents, plan to move their fine dining restaurant, Hampton’s, into the location.