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Rebuilding plans delayed, bids exceed price range

LAKE PLACID While several groups await the opening of the soon-to-be-rebuilt Lake Placid Conference Center, designers of the new building must go back to the drawing board. According to a statement released by Olympic Regional Development Authority President and CEO, Ted Blazer, Bids have been received for the Olympic Centers conference center modernization project. The bids significantly exceeded the engineers estimate and the current available funding that ORDA has secured for the project. Although 15 bids were reportedly submitted for the renovation, all of them were well out of the established price range. Approximately $23 million is set aside for construction of the new facility, which had originally been designed to host groups as large as 1,000 people. With the lowest bid coming in around $36 million, design plans will have to be revisited. Six million more dollars for the project, earmarked by Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Hudson) are pending approval in Albany, but would not be enough to cover the difference. The bids came in much higher than expected because of the rising costs of materials, especially petroleum. The continuing increases in the cost of steel, copper and petroleum-based products and petroleum-related operations contributed as the major factor in the cost increases, said Blazer. Were going back to the drawing board, said ORDA spokesman Sandy Caligiore, who could not rule out the possibility of designing a smaller facility. Architectural firm HNTB, a company known for building conference centers, has been the driving force behind the design. Caligiore said that ORDA will continue working with them. The design team is reviewing the bids and all options and alternatives to reduce the cost of the project and keep the initiative moving forward, said Blazer. Keeping the project moving is one of ORDAs main goals at this point. Were hoping it wont be that long, Cagliore said of the delay. With the project on hold, a timeline for completion remains to be seen. Meanwhile, several groups are anxiously waiting for the conference center to open. We probably have about half a dozen groups interested in coming here, groups that are currently waiting, added Caligiore. Jim McKenna of the Lake Placid Visitors Bureau confirmed that statement. Theres a certain amount of pent-up demand for this kind of facility, he said. According to McKenna, at least five large organizations have been in contact with the Visitors Bureau, waiting for a facility large enough to host their events. Many of those groups used to meet regularly in Lake Placid but outgrew the old conference center. Both McKenna and Caligiore expect the conference center, when finished, to have a positive economic impact on the Lake Placid region, particularly in the shoulder months of the fall and spring seasons. Still, for now, everyone is left guessing when that will be.

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