Pharmacy school construction priced millions over budget

HILO (AP) — Bids to build the University of Hawaii’s new pharmacy school in Hilo are at least $2.5 million more than expected.

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HILO (AP) — Bids to build the University of Hawaii’s new pharmacy school in Hilo are at least $2.5 million more than expected.

The university budgeted $30 million for the pharmacy school’s construction. Bids were between $2.5 million and $5.5 million higher, which one industry expert says is due to Hawaii’s booming construction market.

“This is the hottest construction market that has ever existed in the state of Hawaii,” said John White, the executive director of the Pacific Resource Partnership representing the Hawaii Carpenters union as well as 240 contractors. “Last year, there was about $5 billion of construction projects permitted alone. That was about a 23 percent increase over the previous year.”

White said it’s harder and more expensive to find workers.

University of Hawaii spokesman Dan Meisenzahl says a few options are being considered, but he declined to mention specific courses of action for the pharmacy school project.

He said generally, projects that come in over budget can be scaled back to lower the price tag, put out for bid again, or money can be found to increase the budget.

Meisenzahl says the pharmacy project’s over-budget bids have caused a two-month delay that could grow.

UH project documents show bids higher than expected in other projects.

Bids for air conditioning replacements were generally between $100,000 and more than $300,000 over budget.

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Meisenzahl says the university plans to have one company design and build large projects in the future rather than using separate firms for design and construction.

“That’s the thing that we’ve identified as being a more efficient way to get these projects completed on budget and on time,” he said. “And that’s obviously our very important goal.”

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