Georgetown Harborwalk repair bid $129,000 under budget

M.B. Kahn Construction Co. of Columbia will be renovating the Georgetown Harborwalk for less than what city leaders had budgeted, barring any miscalculations or missing information in the company's bid for the work.

M.B. Kahn was the lowest of six bidders at Tuesday's bid opening, saying it could do the work - the first renovation of the Harborwalk in more than 20 years - for $471,000.

It was one of only two companies to submit a bid within the city's $600,000 budget for the project.

The second lowest bidder, L-J Inc., also of Columbia, said it could complete the project for $498,500. The other bids were between $734,000 and $814,000.

M.B. Kahn built the 1.2-mile, $6 million boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, which opened earlier this year, and is handling the terminal expansion at Myrtle Beach International Airport.

The Harborwalk, which was built in the 1980s, will get new decking, lighting and railings - improvements city leaders hope will lure more tourists and business to the restaurants and shops downtown. The wooden walkway runs along the Sampit River.

All of the six bids met the city's basic criteria, said David McSweeney of Collins Engineers.

McSweeney will review the bids in depth before the City Council meets Thursday to confirm that the bid amounts are correct and no miscalculations have been made.

"I'm delighted," said Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville. "$125,000 less than we budgeted for."

Scoville said there is a chance if the bid is awarded for less than the budgeted amount that the leftover money could go toward the cost of labor to help businesses along the Harborwalk match the new design.

He said he told the businesses that if they purchased the materials, the city would pay for the labor to install the matching railings on the harbor side of those businesses.

"That's something to discuss," he said.

Barring any problems with the bid, the council probably will approve it Thursday, Scoville said.

However, some city residents have questioned why the Harborwalk plans did not go before the Board of Architectural Review as Scoville had previously said they would.

Lee Padgett of Georgetown, who attended the board's meeting Monday, said the plans didn't come before the board during that meeting.

A city ordinance says plans for building, alterations, repairs, moving or demolition within the historic district will not be granted a permit until it is submitted to the Board of Architectural Review for its approval.

"Any property owner would have to go before that board," Padgett said. "The city seems to exempt itself."

But Scoville said the city approached the board and asked them to review the plans and the board said the Harborwalk is not within its jurisdiction.

City ordinances say the southern boundary of the historic district is the Sampit River. Scoville said because the Harborwalk extends over that line, the board did not want to review the plans.

"They didn't want to look at something that wasn't in their jurisdiction," he said.

Scoville also said the concerns about the ipe wood to be used in the project not being historic were unfounded.

"There's nothing historic about chemically treated yellow pine," he said.