New LHS Estimated to Cost $343M
LOWELL -- The total project cost for the new Lowell High School is estimated to top $343 million, according to the project’s schematic design presented Thursday night.
Members of the School Building Committee unanimously approved the submission of that design to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which will likely be reviewed for approval at the MSBA’s April 10 meeting.
The complete estimated project cost is $343,399,220. Of that number, $270,444,856 represents construction costs. Other costs, like building demolition and the handling of hazardous materials, are estimated at $17,423,246.
After MSBA’s reimbursement, the total cost to the city is estimated at $129,267,512.
James Cook, a member of the School Building Committee, stressed that the estimated total cost is not going to be the cost to the city of Lowell.
“I think sometimes that gets lost in the debate on what’s the cost to the taxpayers of the city,” Cook said.
Representatives from Perkins Eastman, the project architect, said Thursday night that there will be 388,262 square feet of renovated space, estimated to cost $358.55 per square foot. New construction makes up 234,515 square feet, which is estimated to cost $485.29 per square foot.
Robert Bell, of Perkins Eastman, highlighted some features in the project, which included some green space on the roof, improved lighting in classrooms, and classroom configurations based on clusters for STEM and humanities learning. He said the new high school will be a “total transformation” from what exists today.
“In the 1980s Building, the only thing that’s going to be left inside are the columns and the structure, to which we’re building back all new walls, all new floors, all new ceilings,” Bell said. “Everything is effectively new construction inside the existing shell and that’s virtually true of the 1922 Building as well.”
School Building Committee member Ed Kennedy, who is also a sitting city councilor and state senator of the First Middlesex District, spoke up about the importance of Lowell High School being accredited.
“If we don’t have a high school that’s accredited, imagine what it would do to residential property values. Nobody would want to buy a house in Lowell or in any community that has a high school that is not accredited,” Kennedy said. “So, I think we should look at this as a tremendous opportunity.”
City Manager Eileen Donoghue, who chairs the School Building Committee, said one of the first issues she was faced with as city manager had to do with gas leaks at the Lowell High School fieldhouse. Heating challenges have persisted throughout the school.
“From where I sit, it’s unfortunate that this process wasn’t done 10 years ago or more,” Donoghue said. “All of our systems are beyond their useful life and they will not last another 20 years.”
The Lowell City Council will vote on project should the MSBA approve the schematic design in April, according to Donoghue. If everything goes as planned, construction on the project is planned to begin in 2021.
“Obviously, this is a state-of-the-art school, a school of the future, in an urban campus with many unique aspects,” Donoghue said. “I think we’ll be one of the most outstanding high schools -- not just in the state, but beyond.”
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