That’s what Cadiz, with the guidance of Public Works Director Kerry Fowler, has done with the renovation of the Mary White Building, readying it for its next life as the Cadiz Convention Center.
Grant money allotted only $250,000 to renovate the Jefferson Street building, but the bids for the project the city received in March ranged from $453,000 to $894,000 — price tags the city simply couldn’t afford.
To stay within the budget mandated by available grant money, Kerry Fowler was appointed general contractor — “or whatever you want to call it,” he said — of the project. He was responsible for coordinating sub-contractors to complete certain facets of the renovation, like heating and cooling or cabinetry.
The move appears to have paid off. Fowler said the project is on target with its budget, and is hoping to be finished by March 1, 2006.
“We have done real well with the money,” Fowler said. “We took our time to get the best deals.”
The biggest task remaining is repairing the roof — the strategy for which Fowler is still sorting out. Beyond that, cabinets must be hung, heat must be turned on to allow for a second coat of interior paint and handicap access ramps must be poured.
Due to the tight budget, the basement of the building will not be renovated, but will be used instead for storage.
Fowler said it’s no loss, as they certainly need the space.
“We can get everything in one place,” he said.
Though the project has run smoothly, Fowler confessed to feeling in over his head at least once.
Fowler said the size of the task he’s undertaken — using half the money other contractors said would be needed — became apparent “when we started taking the walls out.”
Light-colored strips of hardwood in what is to be the main room of the convention center reveal where the walls once stood. Still in good shape, the hardwood will be refinished, not replaced.
Fowler said the hardest part of the process has been staying abreast of the latest construction codes, which constantly change from year to year. However, Fowler did say they’ve had a good relationship with the building inspector.
Though the building is still at least two months from completion, Fowler said some have already expressed interest in renting the facilities.
Fowler said the Janice Mason Art Museum has inquired about using the convention center for a large in-service to be conducted by the Louisville Speed Art Museum for more than 100 school faculty members from surrounding counties this summer.