Ridgeland will be breaking ground next Friday on a long-proposed $15 million City Hall in a civic and commercial complex being developed and envisioned for nearly two decades.

Ridgeland aldermen on Tuesday awarded construction bids for the structure in the northwest corner of Highway 51 and School Street.

The board promptly put the current City Hall at Highway 51 and Lake Harbour up for sale.

Mayor Gene F. McGee announced at a Monday evening work session that the awarded bids meant they were ready to announce a groundbreaking date, which they did on Wednesday.

He told a host of Boy Scouts from Troop 30 attending the meeting that the groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 16.

“Y’all come out and we will let you shovel some dirt,” McGee said.

A more formal downtown setting has been a stated goal of McGee’s for a long time, and Ward 2 Alderman Chuck Gautier mentioned in June after the board approved a $20 million bond issue — some of which will pay for the new facility — that it has been a goal of the city board since before he first ran for office.

“This is something that has been on the board’s wishlist since before I became an alderman 18 years ago and is something our mayor has been working on for awhile,” Gautier said. “It is exciting to see it finally come to fruition. I hope it allows us to offer our citizens better services from a better facility.”

Low bids were awarded unanimously to Mid State Construction, Shivers Construction Company LLC, and J.L. Roberts Mechanical Contracting LLC.

The total amount awarded was $9,163,000 in base bids and approximately another million in alternate bids. McGee said that they will issue a bid to furnish the building when the building is closer to finished. The total cost of the building is projected at $15.9 million.

The city is also involved with Benchmark Construction and Waggoner Engineering for construction management services and other management and design work. 

Waggoner produced the drawing presented to the board in 2014 that has been used to promote the project. Design for the building was based on those drawings.

The city is already into Waggoner Engineering for the design work they have done with the city for about $695,000 for design phase services, special services and services related to the bidding, contracting and construction phase.

McGee noted that the bids looked good, and that all were turned in correctly and none were rejected for formatting or content issues. No bids were submitted online.

No timeline was discussed Monday or Tuesday for completing the project, though the winning bidders have 485 workdays — qualified as non-holiday weekdays with good weather — to complete the project after they have received their notice to proceed.

Mid State received the bid for prime general construction work with a base bid of $6,963,000. The city accepted three other bids in this category from Paul Jackson & Son Inc., Flagstar Construction Company Inc. and Benson Builders & Properties Inc. Benson submitted the high bid of $7,945,000 while Paul Jackson & Son were the second-lowest at $7,290,000, clearing the low bid by $327,000. Flagstar bid $7,396,000.

The city received six total bids for prime electrical work including a low bid of $1.1 million from Shivers.

The second-lowest was from Synergy Electric Inc. at $1,192,000 and Total Electric LLC topped the bidding at just under $1.6 million.

Roberts prime mechanical bid came in at $1.1 million among a field of five. The closest base bid came from South Central Heating & Plumbing Co. at $1,152,000. Ivy Mechanical Company topped the list at over $1.4 million.

The 2014 drawings showed an ambitious look at what the project could include, including a town hall building, a museum, arts center and retail/office space totaling 11 structures in all.

Currently, the city plans to move ahead on the new town hall building and a proposed Veterans Garden. The garden will be paid for by private donations managed by members of the Madison County Veterans Service and a board that includes community Development Director Alan Hart and Public Works Director Mike McCollum.

The Veterans Memory Park in Ridgeland is projected to cost $122,000 and was spearheaded by the late Dr. Tom Logue. Plans were approved by the city in April of 2017.

The park will include benches and plaques commemorating the six branches of the military. The park also features a central walkway, the Walk of Heroes and a flagpole. The centerpiece would be a seven-foot bell tower.

“Most cities have a statue or monument that you drive by and that’s fine, but we wanted something you come to and be a part of,” Logue said at the time. “The bell will work and we want people to be able to go and ring that bell and say a fallen veteran’s name for that moment that veteran will live again.”

The city approved several other items in relation to the city center on Tuesday:

• They approved a change order for the worksite with Hemphill Construction. Hemphill had a deal to park some equipment and materials on the site. The change order involved them agreeing to plant some grass before they were done with the site.

• Authorized an updated appraisal for the property located at 304 Highway 51. “That is this property right here,” McGee noted. “We want to know what it is worth so we can sell it.” He added that they had already received interest for the site.

• Declared the current City Hall as surplus property. Ward 1 Alderman Ken Heard asked if it was “early in the game” to put the property up for sale. McGee said that the process would take a while and that they could take what time they needed to consider any offers and submitted bids.