Accepted bid was lowest for bandstand project

College of Charleston student Graham Gutekanst sits on the stairs of the bandstand Friday at White Point Garden in downtown Charleston. City council has approved a $273,500 contract with Charles Blanchard Construction Corp. to renovate the 102-year-old st

Face-lift for the bandstand: $273,500. Restoring an iconic structure: priceless?

But why so much, a reader asked Watchdog.

As it turns out, that seemingly high bid was the lowest the city got for restoration of the bandstand at White Point Garden. Bids ranged upward to $809,000, so council approved the low one from Charles Blanchard Construction Corp.

Parks Department Deputy Director Matt Compton said that the expense of the project was due in part because of how unique the structure is and because of the age of the building.

"It would probably be easier and less expensive if we were to completely rebuild the gazebo," Compton said. "But demolishing such an iconic structure would be like taking the cannons out of the Battery."

Since the bandstand was elevated in 1934, the restrooms built underneath the gazebo have caused differential settlement in the foundation. This type of foundation failure usually occurs in areas of soft soil, such as that under White Point Garden.

To compensate for the foundation's failure, the gazebo will be lowered by 3 feet.

Charles Blanchard Construction Corp. will begin the restoration process by demolishing the building's current support structure and replacing it with more sound support.

"We hope that the new support system will give the gazebo the capability of withstanding another 100 years," Compton said.

The $273,500 gazebo restoration is part of a $885,000 project to improve White Point Garden. Additional improvements include resetting the curbs around the park, rebuilding the park's paths and enhancing handicap accessibility.

Related story

American bandstand, Charleston style: 102-year-old White Point Garden structure to be renovated under $273,500 contract, published 03/02/09