Campus upgrades steam ahead

Bids are expected to come in strong in the next couple months for big-ticket projects in the San Mateo Community CollegeDistrict, despite a warning from construction industry insiders that demand for quality building will be even higher in the next few years.

Much of the preliminary design work has already been completed for the second phase of construction, which includes two new academic buildings at Skyline College and will be funded with a $468 million bond passed in 2005, SMCCCD spokeswoman Barbara Christensen said.

The first phase of work is almost entirely complete, funded by a $207 million bond voters passed in 2001. The work includes a new finance building at the College of San Mateo, a new student center at Skyline, a new library and learning resource center at Cañada and a host of infrastructure upgrades.

Bids for the second phase should be awarded in the next couple months, with an anticipated construction start of June 2008. Construction will likely continue into 2012, Christensen said.

Rick Bennett, district executive director of construction planning, advised the district in September that the construction market has changed substantially since the district first had the vision for its massive campus upgrade, noting it was possible that preapproved construction teams would remove their hats from the ring for upcoming work.

Still, Christensen said competition for construction companies has always been a challenge.

“We’re not concerned about receiving bids,” Christensen said. “That might have been a word of caution, but these are big, well-designed projects.”

Jeff Gee with Swinerton Management and Consulting, one of the area’s largest construction-services companies, said the education division of the company is bidding $250 million in 2008 for Bay Area projects.

A number of these projects, both private and public, are on the Peninsula and are currently under construction. Projects range from the controversial Palo Alto Medical Foundation project in San Carlos,which is expected to break ground in 2009, to the Peninsula Medical Center in Burlingame, currently under construction, to a 20-screen movie theater being built at The Shops at Tanforan in San Bruno.

tramroop@examiner.com

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