Friday, November 2, 2001

The UH president's residence on College Hill was donated
to the university by the Atherton family after serving as Frank
and Eleanor Atherton's country home in the early 1900s.

Dobelle residence
fixes cost $1 million

Renovation funds will be raised
from private donations, he says

By Treena Shapiro

The cost of renovating and furnishing the University of Hawaii president's residence at College Hill has ballooned to about $1 million, more than double the estimates when work began in July.

Two months after the Star-Bulletin requested the information, the university released contracts yesterday that put renovation costs to the main house and guest cottage at $690,498. That figure does not include the amount being spent on interior design and furnishings for the two structures.

The original estimate for furnishings was $112,504, but the university did not disclose an updated figure since the furnishing bills are being paid for by the UH Foundation, not the state.

However, UH spokesman Jim Manke said the total cost of the project is expected to reach $1 million by the time the work is completed later this month.

When work began in July, the various contracts were expected to cost $494,633, which included $200,392 for the main house, $181,737 for the cottage, and the $112,504 for the furnishings.

Now contracts for the house alone will cost $469,161, while the cottage work is up $39,600 to $221,337.

UH President Evan Dobelle, who took over in July, has said he will personally raise funds from private sources to cover the renovation costs, possibly by naming rooms after donors who underwrite some of the costs.

Correspondence between the university and the contractors indicates that Dobelle's wife, Kit, requested many modifications to the contracts, such as replacing the lanai lights with ceiling fans for $3,213 and replacing metal stair railings at the entry and rear lanai with wood and aluminum guardrails for $21,809.

Manke said that costs began adding up because of Kit Dobelle's changes and necessary repair and maintenance projects.

"This is a fairly unique situation in which we're actually dealing with residents," rather than a classroom or lecture hall, Manke said.

"The university has a significant asset in College Hill and we want to do what we can to make sure it is maintained," he said. The bottom floor of the home is used for public functions and the upper floor is the family's living quarters.

The home, originally built as Frank and Eleanor Atherton's country home in the early 1900s, was donated to the university by the Athertons' children in 1963.

Evan and Kit Dobelle and their son Harry are the sixth UH president's family to reside in the home.

In June, former UH President Kenneth Mortimer, then-chief procurement officer for the university, granted an exemption from standard procurement procedures, which would have included advertised bidding. The reasoning was that the lengthy procurement process would have kept the renovations from being completed by Aug. 31, when the Dobelles were to move in.

Instead, the university solicited competitive proposals and awarded contracts to Projects Plus Inc. and Pacific Architects Inc. at the end of June.

State procurement administrator Aaron Fujioka said that while the university is exempted from state procurement laws because of constitutional autonomy, in this case the university adhered to the state's standards for smaller projects.

The university's original $172,181 contract with Projects Plus Inc. for the main house called for renovations that included electrical and lighting modifications, replacing the air conditioning, repainting the interior and miscellaneous carpentry.

Over four modifications to the Projects Plus contract, however, the price tag rose to $417,409, including a new roof at $92,343, a $24,669 exterior paint job, and new pavement for $33,580.

Repairing and replacing flooring throughout the house cost $33,609 -- matching wood parquet flooring in the family room, Kit and Harry Dobelle's studies and guest bath; wood flooring in the kitchen, breakfast room, two powder rooms and a service hall; repairs to damaged wood flooring in the sitting and dining rooms; and one coat of clear finish to all wood floors. Vinyl flooring was replaced in the master bathroom and Harry's bathroom.

Other changes to the original contract included $2,683 to plug openings in the crawl space with scouring pads to prevent rats from entering. Matching ivory light switches, receptacles and face plates in both the main home and cottage cost $6,592.

Projects Plus' work on the guest cottage increased from $156,000 to $195,600 for air conditioning, reroofing, new windows, appliances, painting, plumbing and carpentry work.

Pacific Architect's main house contract rose $23,535 to $51,752, which included reconstruction of the greenhouse. There were no changes to the company's $25,767 contract for the guest cottage.


Here's a look at some of the improvements to the UH president's house and guest cottage:

Main house

>> $92,343 to remove and reroof the main house with new baby wood shingles.

>> $24,669 to repaint the exterior of the main house, garage and trash enclosure.

>> $4,859 to repair damaged wood flooring in the sitting room and dining room and to refinish all wood flooring with one coat clear finish.

>> $33,581 to pulverize and replace pavement.

>> $2,683 to plug all openings within the crawl space with scouring pads to prevent rats from entering the attic.

>> $2,961 to replace existing vinyl flooring and base in the master bedroom and replace the vinyl base in Harry Dobelle's bathroom and master bedroom closet.

>> $4,142 to replace existing wallpaper in the kitchen and pantry and patch and paint the portion of the wall that will not be papered.

>> $3,489 to recoat existing the flat roofs for the porte cochere and exterior lanai.

>> $4,545 to replace all existing light switch receptacles and face plates with matching ones.

>> $15,317 to install wood flooring in the kitchen, breakfast room, two powder rooms and a service hall.

>> $5,251 for parquet flooring in two studies and guest bath.

>> $7,603 to replace all window screens.

Guest cottage

>> $2,025 to replace entry door and hardware.

>> $600 to replace two bath light fixtures.

>> $9,582 to change windows from single-hung to double hung.

>> $2,077 to replace electrical devices to ivory ones.

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