Harrisonburg company tapped to rebuild Buford Middle School

A Harrisonburg company with extensive experience building in Charlottesville has been selected for the rebuild of Buford Middle School.

The construction is part of a larger, long-discussed reconfiguration project, which would move sixth-grade facilities at Walker Upper Elementary School to Buford and convert Walker into a preschool.

Nielsen Builders won the bidding process with a base bid of $71.4 million and total construction cost of $84.3 million, according to a report from the Charlottesville city manager.

“We do a lot of work for churches, schools and businesses,” Nielsen Chief Development Officer Jim DeLucas told The Daily Progress.

Nearly two decades ago, Nielsen renovated the Paramount Theater on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. More recently, the company built the 101,000-square-foot Old Ivy Building for the University of Virginia Foundation to house the university’s offices of development, human resources, communications and safety and security.

Like Crozet Elementary School, which Nielsen also rebuilt, the planned overhaul of Buford was designed by Charlottesville-based VMDO Architects.

The project will extensively renovate the existing structure at Buford and construct a new three-story academic wing at the school.

The Buford rebuild appears to be the most expensive public works project in the city’s history and promises to dramatically change the Cherry Avenue school that has been operating relatively unchanged since its 1966 opening.

According to the interim City Manager Michael Rogers’ recent report to City Council, Nielsen won the job by submitting the lowest bid. But Nielsen’s DeLucas noted one aspect of the company that might appeal in a municipality where equity is a topic of each city council meeting.

“Basically we’re employee-owned,” said DeLucas. “I’m an owner, our superintendents are owners, our estimators are owners, our managers are owners and our laborers are owners.”

DeLucas said the full scope of the project, which includes three options, is still being negotiated with city officials.

Full article here: Buford Middle School - Daily Progress

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