Breakdown of the estimated costs of overhauling Charleston International Airport: Construction: $161.7 million*Management: $37.3 millionTotal: $199 million*Includes 4% fee, or $5.6 million, for Austin-Hitt based on the actual work cost of $139.3 million. The remaining $16.8 million, is for preconstruction, contingencies, permits and other costs.Management feesProgram management: $5.76 million for Michael Baker Corp.Design: $15.55 million for Fentress Architects, Watson Tate Savory Liollio and othersAdministration: $16 millionContractor: To be determinedCharleston County Aviation Authority
The cost to overhaul Charleston International Airport gained altitude Thursday and is now soaring close to $200 million.
The price tag mushroomed about one-third above the airport’s previously stated estimate of $150 million when it was publicly disclosed for the first time that management fees will total $37 million.
Another $12 million in newly announced construction-related expenses bring the estimated final cost to $199 million.
The Aviation Authority will meet Thursday to determine how it will pay for the makeover of the 27-year-old terminal. The board will likely finance the project by issuing bonds, Chairman Chip Limehouse said.
Charleston International is the busiest airport in the state. The expansion and overhaul are necessary because it saw a record 2.5 million passengers last year, up 30 percent over 2010, officials have said. Passenger traffic is expected to reach 4 million or more by 2030.
Airports director Sue Stevens stressed the $162 million in building costs — not including management fees — is only an estimate that could rise or fall as bids come in.
The revised construction price is about $20 million less than the original estimate from the team hired to manage the project. The venture is made up of Austin Commercial LP of Dallas and local partner Hitt Contracting Inc.
Their original figure was winnowed to $169 million from $182 million in recent weeks. Austin-Hitt and Fentress Architects of Denver then worked with airport employees to make further cuts.
The authority appeared satisfied with the latest estimates, with no one questioning the latest final cost projections.
“I feel like today we birthed a baby,” Limehouse said. “This approval today was the culmination of hundreds of hours of work by airport staff and contractors.”
Slashed from the airport’s wish list was one new gate on Concourse A and several cosmetic improvements, saving about $5 million.
The airport was going to have to move doors and do foundation work on Concourse A to support adding a new gate. It decided it was not worth it since it is eyeing an expansion of the concourse later.
“When we expand in the not-too-distant future, we would just have to do it all over again,” Stevens said.
The axed gate shaved about $3 million off the tab, said Tom Theobald of Fentress Architects. A canopy that was to go across the front of the terminal also was eliminated and saved about $1.6 million.
Many of the discarded projects could be restored if the airport chooses to make upgrades in the future, Stevens said.
The latest estimate doesn’t affect many of the revamps coming to the terminal in the next year or so.
Still in place are the $4.3 million rental car pavilion, which is now under construction, a third luggage carousel, a consolidated security checkpoint, new offices, a dome over the lobby and extensive changes for baggage handling in the airport’s belly. Most of that work won’t start until spring.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/ warrenlancewise.
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