Choate is still working diligently to turn the project over to UUCA by June. Still, there is some concern regarding the timeline creeping in due to difficulty with DeKalb county, which plagues the project. Previously approved plans are deemed inadequate when either inspectors or the fire marshal are on site. Choate has kept UUCA informed of these instances as they have happened, and we’ve been working with the county to cure them, but it does seem like a new obstacle from the county is put before us each week. Currently, Choate is actively dealing with protests by the county regarding spray foam insulation. The fire marshal and building inspector now demand that all the spray foam insulation be sprayed with a thermal barrier for additional fire safety. The foam product used in the installation, according to the contractor, already has the required rating as it’s a new product on the market. Still, the county is unrelenting in its pursuit of the spray barrier. We are actively monitoring the situation, but we are now expecting increased costs should the county continue with the added scope beyond original plans, which were stamped and approved at the start of the project last year. Both Choate and the UUCA team continue to feel like the new DeKalb Fire Marshal continuously moves the goalposts. Due to this specific new issue, all ceiling covering inspections and installations are at a complete stand-still. Choate is trying to keep on track with the schedule, but this is causing a substantial impediment and may lead to a week or two of delays in completion.
UUCA continues to make timely payments on the project to Choate and our subcontractors. As of this week, UUCA has injected a total of $4,099,008 into the project and has $980,616 available on hand. UUCA has also received the Endowment Fund Loan proceeds of $650,000, which are currently held in a reserve account and are seasoning before deployment on the project. We also expect the SouthFace Grant #2 secured by our Climate Action Team to arrive in the coming weeks. With $1.69M in anticipated funding available, we don’t expect to have to draw down our construction loan until the very end of the project. One factor that has decreased our burn rate is the delays created by supply-chain issues surrounding the main power distribution components earlier in the quarter and the delays due to DeKalb county inspections. Additionally, a 10% retainage against Choate has accumulated to a current level of $425K which will be held until near project completion. The project is currently over the original budget by about $200,000 comprised of a mix of unforeseen circumstances (misidentification of the water main by DeKalb County, new fire safety requirements by DeKalb county for stairwells, mechanical and electrical rooms, underground rock excavation, and boulder disposal, new parking lot substrate compaction issues, asbestos abatement) and improvements toward creating a greener facility paid for in part by grants from SouthFace (LED lighting improvements, polyiso in-wall insulation, complete foam ceiling insulation, new energy star windows, etc.). As of this week, 38 change order proposals have been submitted for the project. While many of these increase costs to the project, several have been deducts in favor of UUCA such as removal of ceiling hatch and ladder, projection screen savings, electric vehicle charger coordination due to a GA power make-ready grant, and internet conduit, which Comcast picked up.
In other news, the Project Phoenix committee met this week with the Architects and our mill-working subcontractor to discuss the coordination of several exciting features of our new facility, including the repurposing of several reclaimed items taken from our previous home at Cliff Valley. Items such as door pulls, stair railings, and our historic leaded stained-glass windows will be beautifully displayed when we open this summer.
Finally, our independent inspection of the complete project by ECS continues regularly. Due to the high precipitation events the past couple of weeks, ECS noted a couple of areas on site that needed sediment removal. The report was received on March 14th, and the condition was cured before the main event on March 17th. With rain in the forecast off and on for the next week, all eyes are paying attention to our erosion and sediment controls on the site.