CORPUS CHRISTI — The Del Mar Board of Regents has approved the budget for package two of the first phase of construction for its new South Side Campus. The original estimate for the project was $87 million, but today's approved budget was for $107 million.
The budget passed on an 8-to-1 vote. The 'no' vote came from Ed Bennett, who had some concerns and questions about the higher $20 million cost.
According to the project's architect's, the negotiated cost was much higher because the Board of Regents misread the labor market. The architects said the current shortage of workers is because they're already working on other large-scale projects such as the Exxon plant near Portland.
That led to another question from Bennett.
"May it be better off if we simply wait (to begin construction) until the market cools down?"
The Board of Regents decided it shouldn't wait to build the new South Side campus, even though the higher $107 million price tag caught several members by surprise.
"I am somewhat disappointed," said board member Libby Averyt. "It feels like we were just off on the estimate, which happens."
Architects were able to save money and cut costs by making minor changes to the project, such as taking away an overlook from the library and a glass bridge walkway.
Carol Scott, the Board of Regents president, says in the long run, eliminating those flourishes from the plan still presents big opportunities for students in the south side area when the project is completed.
"That would be a prime location and an opportunity for us to grow with our students, grow with the community," said Scott.
The board also approved putting $10 million toward furniture and fixtures for the new campus. That money is being taken out of the college's plant fund. Scott described that as sort of a savings account for the college.
The $107 million approved today is package two for phase one of the project. There are two more phases in the master plan. The money for those phases would, once again, come from a bond approved by voters.
Construction on phase one of the project is expected to begin in the spring of next year. It's expected to be finished in 2022.