PROSSER, Wash. -- The Port of Benton received 16 bids from contractors wanting to build the long-awaited Walter Clore Wine & Culinary Center in Prosser.
Still, the lowest bid came in above what was budgeted for construction of the $3.5 million center.
Burke Construction of Spokane is the apparent low bidder, said Stuart Dezember, the port's finance director and auditor. The company's bid was about $3.2 million.
Dezember said the bids were all very competitive. The port's request asked contractors to also bid on alternates, so the port will be looking at those to bring the project into the budgeted amount.
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Plans include a 14,900-square-foot building to complement the Vineyard Pavilion, a 2,400-square-foot building that opened on the same property last year.
The center's goal is to tell the story of the state's wine industry and honor Walter Clore, who worked at Washington State University's Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center north of Prosser and helped prove that wine grapes would be a viable crop in the Columbia Valley. He died in 2003.
The project is being paid for by a $2 million federal grant, a $1.4 million state grant and fundraising by the nonprofit wine center board. The nonprofit board's goal is to raise about $800,000.
The nonprofit will operate the center, but it's being built on port land by the port with grant money awarded to the port. The port will own the building.
Port staff, ALSC Architects of Spokane and the federal Economic Development Administration will review the bids during the next week, Dezember said.
The port commission likely will hold a special meeting to award the contract, he said. That will allow the project to move forward.
The nonprofit center's goal is to open the doors in fall 2013.
For more information or to donate, go to www.theclorecenter.org.