MOUNT VERNON — Three general contractors had their bids opened Thursday for the Central School renovation project, with a local firm — Modern Builders of Mount Vernon — putting in the lowest bid of $3,231,923. Once a bid is awarded, work will likely begin by early June.

The bids were opened during Thursday’s Knox County Commissioners meeting.

The work involves renovating the old Central School for the Veterans Service Office/Board of Elections (VSO/BOE) Joint Service Center project. Architectural plans designed by MKC Architects of Powell, Ohio involve the veterans office occupying the main (first) floor of the building facing Chestnut Street, with the elections board utilizing the lower floor/basement, which has a large parking lot behind it. An exterior elevator will be constructed next to the lot. The two entities will share the second floor, which will include election board offices and a shared meeting space.

The bids were opened by MKC’s principal architect on the project, Todd Wrobleski. He said separate bids would be accepted for the general Central School contract and for window replacements. Contractors could bid on both or either.

Modern Builders put in bids of $3,144,444 on the main Central School renovation, and a separate bid of $87,479 for windows for a total of $3.232 million. Modern Builders’ low bid includes $100,000 for “contingencies” to cover change order-type work if needed, and its overall bid is well under the engineer’s estimate of $3.5 million. They were also required to provide five percent of the project’s cost as a project guarantee.

Adena Corp. of Mansfield put in a bid for the general Central School project contract, which was $3,669,000. Elford of Columbus put in separate bids for the general contract — $3,505,000, and window replacements, bidding $140,000.

“We’re very pleased with how it turned out,” county Administrator Jason Booth said. “This is very exciting.”

Booth and commissioners Teresa Bemiller, Thom Collier and Bull Pursel noted that Modern Builders recently finished a substantial project that involved renovation of the Woodward Opera House building.

Commissioners offered that Modern Builders is well known in the area for being from Mount Vernon and having taken on a number of successful projects. Its proximity to the project and being a smaller company than other contractors might have given it a small advantage in bidding, county Administrator Jason Booth said.

A notice seeking bids was advertised on April 16 and April 25. A pre-bid meeting for all interested contractors and sub-contractors was held April 29. The project has a 210-day window for completion, Wrobleski said, which would mean the building would be completely renovated by the end of the year if it stays on schedule.

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Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews