Because of fast-rising inflation and site grading issues, the cost to build the Greyhound Activity Center at Carmel High School is set to cost nearly 60 percent more than initially estimated.
The Carmel Clay Schools board of trustees discussed the increased cost at its Jan. 30 meeting before voting 5-0 to approve $9.8 million in bid awards for the project, which is now expected to cost $15 million. When the board approved plans for the project in June 2022, CCS officials estimated the 85,000-square-foot, pre-engineered building would cost $9.5 million. The board approved a bid award for the building’s steel structure at a previous meeting.
“(The high inflation rate) has had a meaningful impact on just about everything we’re doing, and we’re all experiencing that in our own personal lives, as well,” CCS Associate Supt. Roger McMichael said, later describing it as “a once in every 40 years” type of increase.
Set to be built north of the CHS football stadium, the activity center will provide indoor practice space for the marching band and winter guard, with athletics and other student groups also expected to use the space. It will include a full-size football field and 9,000 square feet for storage, restrooms and changing areas.
CCS officials said the building will be similar in style to the Carmel Dads’ Club’s new fieldhouse but will be only half of its size. McMichael said the district used the cost of the CDC fieldhouse to help develop its financial estimate for constructing the activity center but that some aspects aren’t similar – such as site conditions. The activity center site is 7 to 8 feet above grade of the surrounding area, a complication increasing the cost of construction.
The school board previously approved funding for the activity center as part of $27 million in 2022 general obligation bonds. To cover the increased cost of building the activity center, McMichael said the district plans to use funds from the bond previously designated for another building set to include restrooms, concessions and locker rooms proposed near the football stadium’s south end zone.
McMichael recommended funding the south end zone building through a lease bond previously proposed to cover separate improvement projects at CHS and other schools. Earlier in the meeting, the board approved setting public hearings for the proposed lease bond – with the amount increased from $34 million to $39 million – on Feb. 13 and 27.
The lease bond is set to be repaid over eight years and is not expected to alter the district’s tax rate, even with the increased amount.
Construction on the activity center is expected to begin in the spring of 2023 and be complete by the end of 2024.