State of Rhode Island Adds 3% Veteran Procurement Goal

As reported in Providence Business News:

A new law signed by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo last year requires 3 percent of all state contracts be awarded to businesses that are owned by military veterans. The bill, according to its text, aims to “assist” these types of businesses by “increasing opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses to participate in state agency contracts and subcontracts.”

… “it’s a major step in the right direction” said [RGB Managing Principal] David DeQuattro.

The new State statute is under RILIN 37-14.3. The text of the statute is available here:


Hyatt Place at T.F. Green Airport Construction to Complete in May

As reported by the Warwick Beacon:

While the new Hyatt Place hotel on Jefferson Boulevard is about three months from opening, two of its 125 rooms are completed. The beds are made. The furniture is in position. The heat and air conditioning work and the picture of Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport make it uniquely Rhode Island.

“This one is very tight,” Jaime Senra says of the timeline for the $23 million project. Senra is the superintendent of the job and, during his 20-year career with Ahlborg Construction, has supervised scores of projects, many of them nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The key to a project of this size, he said, are good drawings and good subcontractors. That appeared to be the case on a tour Thursday. About 70 workers were on site. Crews – whether installing floor tiles, wiring electrical panels, fitting wallboard into place or working on the exterior of the six-story building – moved purposely.

The Hyatt, which when completed will give Warwick 17 hotels with a total of 2,400 rooms, is the first piece in a larger plan that Michael D’Ambra sees transforming the former eight-acre site of his construction company and asphalt plant into an office complex of about 500,000 square feet. It’s a dream he has been working on for years, gaining the zoning approvals and hinged to a vision of a vibrant commercial center built around the airport, train station and nearby proximity to Route 95. What he has planned is a critical element to Warwick City Centre.

Under financing agreements announced at the time of the groundbreaking in April, D’Ambra will receive up to $3.5 million under the statewide tax-increment financing program, approximately $1.2 million in Rebuild Rhode Island tax credits and more than $300,000 in a sales tax exemption on construction materials. Additionally, D’Ambra received approvals from the city for a tax stabilization agreement (TSA), which will freeze value of the property for taxation purposes at the pre-construction assessment for five years. HarborOne Bank is providing the financing.

D’Ambra said Thursday he’s been focused on completing the hotel and offered no news on further development of the site.

“My hands have been full getting this done on time,” he said.

The hotel will be connected to the InterLink with direct access to the Sundlun Terminal at Green Airport via a covered walkway. The hotel will offer five extended stay suites with bedroom, kitchen and living room. It has an indoor swimming pool, exercise room and multi-function rooms. There is also a lounge with a bar off the lobby.

D’Ambra projects a May opening for the new Hyatt.

That’s Senra’s goal. From his perspective it’s coming together quickly, and that’s a dream that will come true.

RGB continues RIDE school work in Jamestown

As reported by the Jamestown Press:

Town seeks $6.7M for school repairs

Voters would weigh in on $5.9M bond in November

The town councilors gave their blessing Monday night for the school department to forward a $6.71 million application to the state for infrastructure repairs at the schools in the next five years.

The application, which includes a bond referendum for $5.87 million on November’s ballot, now heads to the state Department of Education for approval. Even if the plan were endorsed at the next level, however, the town could abandon the proposal if taxpayers weren’t supportive.

“We could withdraw the application if we thought the bond wouldn’t get passed,” Town Administrator Andy Nota said.

The plan, which was mulled by a joint working group of town and school officials, was drafted by Robinson Green Beretta Architects. It is separate from the district’s operating budget that is passed annually at the financial town meeting.

This plan stems from the statewide assessment released in November by Jacobs Engineering that estimated $16.3 million in improvements to get Melrose and Lawn schools into ideal shape. That figure, however, only included about $60,000 in critical repairs to keep the doors open or for them to be deemed “clean, dry and safe.” The assessors said the buildings were in “overall very good condition.”

This application is necessary to receive reimbursement from the state. According to the district’s maintenance director, Peter Anderson, the minimum is 35 percent reimbursement for projects approved by the state. That number could increase to 45 percent because of certain incentives. Because the plan addresses a few of these enticements, including renewable energy, remediation of toxic materials and the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act, Nota is confident the town will receive at least 39 percent reimbursement.

While the number is daunting, more than half of that $6.71 million is earmarked for roof improvements. To repair the roofs, which have surpassed their 25- year warranties, it would cost $2.45 million. That number inflates to $3.4 million, however, because of proposed solar panels.

According to Nota, the schools use a combined 400,000 kilowatts per hour of electricity annually. The two arrays, however, would generate close to a half-megawatt each year, which is 500,000 kilowatts. The remaining energy would be added to the power grid. The town, which uses approximately 2 million megawatts annually, could then use that energy to subsidize other municipal buildings.

“Why wouldn’t we want to use the excess to pay down our bill?” Nota asked rhetorically.

At current electricity rates, Nota said, the district pays $80,000 annually for its electricity. That means the solar panels would be paid for within seven years, assuming the town is reimbursed for the project by the state.

“This process is not in vain,” Anderson said. “It will be fruitful in the end.”

The remaining $3.3 million will be used on mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades for equipment that is reaching the end of its useful life, according to Anderson.

That includes $730,000 to replace HVAC controls at both buildings, $200,000 to replace boilers at Melrose and $175,000 to replace a generator at Lawn. The middle school, which was built in 1951, also needs $375,000 for asbestos abatement and $420,000 to replace the windows.

According to Tracy Donnelly, an associate with the RGB firm, the wood frames for the windows have deteriorated so much the entire assembly must be removed to the masonry opening.

The application also sets aside money at the middle school to build a secure entrance into the gymnasium, repoint the brick exterior, reconfigure the fifth-grade wing and replace fuel tanks.

Lawn, which is 40 years older than its neighboring school, accounts for nearly 60 percent of the application.

According to Nota, the public should not be transfixed on the $6.71 million figure. For example, taxpayers only would be on the hook for $3.23 million of the $5.87 million bond if the district maximizes the reimbursement. That means during the 20-year bond, the town would pay $4.8 million, which includes interest.

“Our challenge is educating the community about the real cost,” he said. “We also could better our rate over the years, which will shift the debt dramatically. It could go down hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Moreover, Nota said, debt service for Melrose School comes off the books in 2021-22. That is costing taxpayers about $240,000 annually, which is similar to his estimated debt service if this plan were to be approved. Taxpayers only would be responsible for a maximum of two budget cycles that address both debts.

“Basically, this new debt will just replace the old debt,” he said. “It’ll be level. Our goal is to minimize the burden on the tax rate.”

While Councilman Blake Dickinson, the board’s lone Republican, voted to support the application, he remains steadfast in his charge to consider other options. Specifically, he wants to research the costs associated with building a new school. Dickinson is worried that after this five-year plan ends, another round of borrowing will be presented.

“I don’t disagree that we have to spend money, but I’m just questioning how we’re spending it,” he said. “I see $6.7 million for five years, but what’s going to stop us from spending $6.7 million in five years and $6.7 million five years after that?”

Sarah Baines, a school committeewoman, said she doesn’t expect that. According to her, this bond will be the lion’s share of the major repairs because the district is addressing equipment that will be guaranteed for 25 more years.

“It should be routine maintenance after that,” she said. “That’s what the surveyors are telling us.”

Also, Anderson said, because the Jacobs report did not recommend replacement buildings, it’s unlikely the state would reimburse a project of that magnitude.

The remaining $850,000 not included in the $5.87 million bond will be financed by capital expenditures through the school committee’s annual budgets. Over five years, those totals range from $114,000 in fiscal year 2018-19 to $239,000 in fiscal year 2022-23.

The working group included, from the schools, Anderson, Superintendent Ken Duva, both principals, business manager Jane Littlefield and B.J. Whitehouse, chairman of the school committee. On the town side were Nota, Councilman Mike White, Town Engineer Mike Gray and Finance Director Tina Collins.


RGB and Associated Firms Welcome Governor Gina Raimondo

IMG_2561IMG_2560IMG_2559RGB Architects Managing Principal David DeQuattro and architects and engineers from associated firms welcomed Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to RGB’s Providence office for a reception. The group enjoyed a holiday atmosphere and took the opportunity to reflect upon common ideas and experiences of the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.

Pictured are the Governor addressing the group, as well as RGB’s David DeQuattro, Luis Torrado of Torrado Architects, Jose Marcano of Jomar Painting, and Glenn Ahlborg of Ahlborg Construction.

North Providence Public Safety Complex Breaks Ground

The Town of North Providence commemorated the groundbreaking of a new Public Safety Complex this morning, led by Mayor Lombardi and joined by RGB Architects and contractor J.R. Vinagro. RGB is delivering design as well as extended construction administration services through our owner’s project management team. The project is budgeted at approximately $27 million and construction will be completed in late 2018.

RGB’s team: Andrew Barkley, Joseph Beretta, Ron Ashton, and John Racine
Breaking ground with Mayor Lombardi and the Chiefs
RGB’s Joseph Beretta, Mayor Lombardi, and Chief Takoian

RWMC breaks ground for Emergency Department

RGB President Joe Beretta and Project Manager Tracey Donnelly, AIA joined representatives from Chartercare/Roger Williams Medical Center and contractor Gilbane Building Company for a groundbreaking ceremony. The project will double the size of the existing emergency department while also renovating the existing space. RGB has performed as design architect on this continuing project.

Groundbreaking at Roger Williams Medical Center ED
Project Manager Tracey Donnelly and President Joseph Beretta
Groundbreaking at Roger Williams Medical Center ED
Groundbreaking at Roger Williams Medical Center ED
Groundbreaking at Roger Williams Medical Center ED
Groundbreaking at Roger Williams Medical Center ED

RGB congratulates two job captains

Jeff Bento and Andrew Godek were elevated to the position of Job Captain at RGB Architects. Jeff and Andrew have been intern architects at RGB and have made significant contributions in notable recent design projects such as the Commons at Providence Station apartment building and the North Providence Public Safety Complex.

Committee praises speed of construction

The Westerly Sun reports:

Committee praises construction speed on Chariho alternative learning academy

WOOD RIVER JCT. — Members of the RYSE Building Committee heard good news from Ahlborg Construction Corp. Vice President Glenn Ahlborg at their Thursday meeting. The foundation for the new Chariho school for students with special needs will be poured in the coming days, and the building will have a roof by Thanksgiving.

Ahlborg Construction was awarded the contract after submitting the lowest bid of $4,675,000.

“I’m very much impressed with the way things are going,” said Richmond committee member William Day. “I’m shocked, to be honest with you, because I’ve never seen such speed going forward.”

Construction of the new school, which will be renamed the Chariho Alternative Learning Academy, began on Aug. 8, and is expected to be completed by Sept. 2018. The building, which will replace leased trailers, will be an addition to the middle school but will remain a separate facility.

The Rhode Island Department of Education approved $5.2 million for the new building and will reimburse the district for up to 65 percent of the construction cost. The Chariho towns will pay the remaining cost. Last November, voters in the three towns approved a bond of up to $6 million to build the new school.

Building committee members discussed several “value engineering items,” components and materials that could be modified or switched to save money.

The first discussion involved the relative costs, benefits and security ramifications of different glass configurations in the school’s interior doors. In the end, members settled on doors without glass side panels, but with some glass in the doors themselves that would still let light filter in.

Another important item is the type of brick that will be used on the outside of the school. Project Manager Peter Hess of the Providence architectural firm, Robinson Green Beretta, which is designing the project, brought brick samples that he said would cost less to install because they don’t require masons to do the work. The choice of the new bricks will save approximately $20,000.

“It doesn’t require masons, who charge $100 per hour,” Ahlborg noted. “It doesn’t compromise quality. It’s still a high-quality product.”

The committee also opted for a different type of roof for the school. Ahlborg explained that rather than a roof that would be glued on, the new roofing system, which would have a 30-year warranty and can withstand winds up to 90 miles per hour, could be installed right over the steel, even in colder weather.

“It’s a heat-bonded system,” he said. “Mechanically fastened to your [roof] deck.”

The committee approved the alternate roof, which will cost $245,000, $10,000 less than the originally proposed roof. It will be white to reflect the sun and keep the building cooler.

Construction meetings will be held weekly from now on at a trailer on the construction site, and Day was appointed to represent the building committee at the meetings. Members also discussed holding a groundbreaking ceremony, which Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said he would look into before the next meeting, on Sept. 19.

RGB to Work on New Westerly Elementary School

As reported by the Westerly Sun RGB was recently selected to perform planning and concept design for a potential new elementary school for Westerly Schools.

As noted in the Sun:

RGB was one of four firms to respond to the School Committee’s request for proposals. The four were interviewed on July 21 by the Building Committee… Misto, who along with Fuller is co-chairwoman of the Building Committee, said RGB scored well on both the technical experience and the cost portion of an evaluation matrix developed by the Building Committee. She said that the firm “interviewed particularly well with favorable strategy.”

RGB, in collaboration with Gilbane, previously worked with the School Department in 2001. This effort produced the school district’s Vision 2020 plan, which has has served as an overall template for school facility design and construction in the district since then. Vision 2020 called for redesign of the elementary schools as the third phase of anticipated work under the long-range facilities  and education plan. The first phase was the construction of Westerly Middle School, and the second phase was renovations to Westerly High School. Both of these phases were carried out by the district, leaving the renovation of the elementary schools as the final piece from the plan.

RGB will work with Robert Hendriks of Educational Legacy Planning the current work. RGB has previously teamed up with Robert at Chariho Alternative Learning Academy and in current work with master planning for South Kingstown Schools. Robert brings decades of experience with similar efforts for numerous districts. He specializes in developing educational specifications as part of a visioning process that leads districts toward long-term solutions for pedagogy.