By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Jan. 24, 2019) Ocean Pines Builder Marvin Steen volunteered a renovation estimate for the Ocean Pines Country Club last week, but after a tour of the structure last Thursday, he is seeing things differently.
He attended a public budget hearing last Wednesday and, during a special board meeting that night, several directors said the entire facility could see a modest renovation for about $1.2 million, based on Steen’s numbers.
Steen changed his mind after touring the site last Thursday with a team of subcontractors and several Ocean Pines representatives, including General Manager John Bailey and Public Works Director Eddie Wells.
Association President Doug Parks said last Friday he was told Steen now favored tearing the building down.
“Steen decided, after he heard from all the different parties that … we really can’t invest in this because it goes far beyond what we consider being a reasonable investment,” Parks said.
Steen, asked on Monday if he now favored tearing the building down, replied, “Absolutely. Damned right.”
According to Steen, the board has been debating whether to remodel or replace the building for the last several years. He said the main structure is more than 40 years old, and a front section added about 20 years ago has not done well.
Steen said the association used in-house labor and some subcontractor work to remodel the first floor about two years ago. He wanted to provide the board with an estimate for a similar remodel on the second floor.
“When I went down, this was last Thursday, we had a big meeting … I brought guys to give me prices. There were a lot of people there,” Steen said.
After the tour, he came to the conclusion, “The second floor could not be done for less than $650 grand – and probably a lot more.”
Despite the first floor remodel done two years ago, reportedly for around $500,000, Steen said that also needed significant work.
Specifically, he said the front portion added 20 years ago was “sort of a disaster” and might cost $250,000 by itself to repair.
Steen said he was told bringing the first floor up to code would cost anywhere from $300,000 to $400,000. But, after seeing all of the issues with the building, he came to the conclusion, “You couldn’t do it for $400 [thousand]. I just know you couldn’t.”
“I said, well, here’s my gut feeling. From a builder, you cannot – you cannot – rebuild that building. It’s gotta come down and you’ve got to build a new building,” Steen said. “The thing they need to do is tear it down.
“I know what I’m doing, as you well know, on the building end. And I’m sure people [will say] ‘Oh, it don’t cost that kind of money!’ Well I found out. I know what it costs,” he added.
Steen said he was told the association was seeking a minimum of three bids for a new building and he believes that is the right way to go. He also vouched for Gillis Gilkerson, who reportedly gave a $1.5 million informal estimate for a new, 7,000-square-foot building.
“I do know one thing, Palmer Gillis is a great builder. I’ve known the boy forever. If they can get them to build that building … they’d better build it today,” Steen said. “What they’d better do is have the golf this summer and people this summer, and [in] October turn them loose and sign that contract, because they’re good people … they’re good builders.”
Steen added he would not be part of the bidding for a new building.
“I’m just trying to volunteer my time to tell them the best I know how – that’s all I’m trying to do,” he said.
Parks thanked Steen for his help.
“I very much respect Marvin coming up and making an offering. It opened up the door of having him take one more look, from somebody who has supported this community for quite some time, just to get his input. So, I thought it was very valuable and really appreciate the fact that now we have one more reference point to support the notion of a full rebuild of the building, rather than a renovation,” he said.
Parks added the board would wait for bid requests to come back before making a decision.
“It’s important to get that RFP out to everybody that would be a qualified individual or qualified firm to bid on the reconstruction of the building,” he said, adding he hoped Gillis Gilkerson would submit a formal bid, “just to dot our I’s and cross our T’s.”
“I always like to be in a defensible position,” Parks said. “If we just go, ‘Hey, we had a water cooler conversation with Gillis and he gave us a number,’ I think it’s unfair to the rest of the potential bidders.”