Coronavirus: Clark County construction projects on track during pandemic

Work continues on the new Greenon School Monday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Construction projects in Clark County are still moving forward even as the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted most other major industries.

Building projects across the county remain on schedule including new housing projects and a new parking garage on Fountain Avenue in downtown Springfield.

READ MORE: Complete coverage of the coronavirus

Springfield City Manger Bryan Heck confirmed the $6.8 million garage is still expected to be ready in the middle of April.

“The retail space and some of the landscaping may not be completed, but the garage itself will be functional,” he said .

With the efforts to limit the spread of the disease, also known as COVID-19, by idling many businesses, keeping the garage project on track was not a foregone conclusion.

The city gave contractor Dugan and Meyers, a construction company located in Blue Ash, the choice of whether to continue after the Ohio Department of Health issued a stay-at-home order that went into effect March 23, Heck said.

“They made the decision as a company to continue to work on their projects,” said Heck, who also noted supply chain disruptions could still slow progress. “It falls under the public works construction line of the shelter-in-place order so they certainly have the ability to continue to work, but we did leave it up to them as a company to decide.”

The same applies to an $8 million, 34-unit townhome development going up nearby.

"They fall under the housing construction line of the shelter-in-place order, so they continue to work on site work on that project, and then also, Bridgewater, which is the Ryan Homes development out on the east side of town, they continue to work as well."

Heck said utilities are going in place at the townhome project, which is on track to be completed in mid-to-late April.

READ MORE: Clark County Sheriff says citizens should not call 911 to find out if they have to go to work

Beyond construction projects, Heck said city workers also remain on the job.

“In short we are continuing to address public works issues and concerns,” he said. “So if there’s a watermain break or something of that nature we are continuing to obviously service those. We’re treating the wastewater. We continue to do those essential services and functions as an organization. And then obviously our first-responders are business-as-usual except for utilizing additional protections.”

As for the Bridgewater development, project manager Lance Oakes of DDC Mangement said phase one of four is complete, and phase two is already underway.

That development is set to include over 230 homes on 53 acres near the Walmart on Tuttle Road.

With model homes under construction, a grand opening event typically would be held in 30-45 days, but that is in limbo with public gatherings of any kind currently banned by the state. That order runs through April 6 but could be extended.

In the meantime, Oakes said Ryan is still conducting virtual showings online for potential buyers.

An economic downturn or even a recession is feared because of the coronavirus and measures being taken to slow its spread, but Oakes said DDC and Ryan Homes remain optimistic about the prospects of filling Bridgewater.

“I do know up until the last couple weeks they’ve had a pretty strong interest order,” Oakes said. “They had a very, very strong interest order from prospective presales and people for that community. We as the developer and they as the builder, I can tell you we’re both very optimistic for that community. We were before, and we’ll be optimistic when — if there is a downturn, coming out of that downturn up.”

Farther out from the city, school construction projects at Greenon and Clark-Shawnee so far have not been impacted by the coronavirus or measures taken to slow its spread according to communications coordinator Megan Anthony.

READ MORE: Greenon project starting to take shape | Shawnee breaks ground

Ground-breaking ceremonies for new PreK-12 buildings for Kenton Ridge and Northeastern remain scheduled for May 15, and Clark-Shawnee superintendent Brian Kuhn said his school’s project could actually accelerate as a result of schools being closed this spring.

“This is allowing them not to have to work around us,” he said, noting workers are taking precautions to avoid the spread of illness such as checking their temperatures before entering the worksite. “We’re not a barrier anymore, so they can get in the spaces they need to get in and not have to worry about noise and such like that around learning. So we’re going to see what the orders and the guidance are from the governor in the next coming weeks and make decisions on spaces that they might be able to work on ahead of schedule.”

The middle school-high school building renovation is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year with educational areas ready to go in August while the new elementary school is slated to open in the fall of 2021.

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