Certificate of Occupancy – check!

We’re celebrating the completion of a major milestone on our to-do list!

Almost a year to the day since the renovation construction began, Makers Mill received its certificate of occupancy from the Town of Wolfeboro’s Planning and Development Department for their community makerspace and vocation hub at 23 Bay Street. 

Anyone who regularly commutes in and around Wolfeboro knows that construction on this building has been progressing steadily since last spring.  The new facade of the building facing Bay Street is an impressive improvement from that which existed prior, and now complements the surrounding built environment. 

Equally substantial upgrades have been made inside the building including new plumbing and electrical, HVAC systems, fire suppression sprinkler system, insulation, concrete slab and floor refinishing, fire egress, windows and dormers, lighting, bathrooms on the first floor, elevator installation, and much more.   The result is a fully code compliant building meeting all life safety and accessibility requirements.   

It’s all about collaboration…

“This building really represents what can be achieved when people collaborate.” reflects Steve Hoffman of Simons Architects. “The synergy among the design team, the community, Makers Mill volunteers and leadership, and the builder, is the reason why a design of this quality was able to be realized. Everyone brought good ideas and a lot of critical thinking to the table and worked extra hard to get the best outcome possible. I think that’s due to the fact that everyone believed in the value of the mission behind the project. We are excited to see how the Makers Mill benefits this region in the future.”

Simons Architects and Leslie Benson Designs were engaged in early 2018 to begin the community-led masterplanning and schematic design process.  This process informed the construction documents that were sent for public bidding in early 2021. 

“This has been such an exciting project to be a part of and we couldn’t be happier to see the space ready for use by the community,” said Leslie Benson of Leslie Benson Designs. “Through an amazing fundraising effort and years of perseverance we were able to pack a lot of great spaces and design features into Phase 1 of this project and are thrilled with the outcome.”

Milestone Engineering and Construction was hired as the project manager to oversee more than twenty different subcontractors and vendors working on the job.  Monthly construction meetings were held throughout the year to address the challenges and curveballs that arose along the way, and there were a few. 

“It was a pleasure working with the Makers Mill team,” reflects Matt Beaulieu, Milestone’s assigned project manager to the job. “Despite the current supply chain issues and labor shortages we were able to work with the group who were completely understanding of the difficult construction climate. This was a great project that will hopefully fulfill the region’s makerspace needs for many years to come.”

What it all cost ….. to date

 Budgetwise, the project came just within the contracted guaranteed maximum price (GMP) of $1,597,981 for construction only. The original renovation scope was much larger and came with a $2.5 price tag which was made more manageable by breaking down the project into two phases. The recently completed construction is Phase 1.

An additional $635,783 was spent on a feasibility study and business plan, existing conditions survey, design and engineering, environmental testing and assessments, construction documents, and construction administration.  The building was purchased in 2017 for an additional $400,000.    

As one can imagine, extensive fundraising and grant writing were necessary to meet these budget goals.  Approximately 57% came from federal sources including the Northern Borders Regional Commission, USDA Rural Development, and Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) Block Grant.  The remaining 43% of funds came from private and state sources including the CDFA administered business tax credit program, private donor-advised funds and foundations, and more than 230 individual donors.  Additionally, an estimated $120,000 worth of in-kind donations of tools and equipment have been received since the organization put the word out for a “tool raiser” back in 2018. 

Committed volunteers make it all possible…

“Makers Mill leadership and volunteers have, from their beginning to the development of this incredible economic development resource, demonstrated a strong commitment to  community and to building a stronger, more resilient local economy,” said Katy Easterly Martey, Executive Director of the NH Community Development Finance Authority. “We are proud to be a funding partner of this project and to support the community in the development of this incredible place.”

In addition to donating dollars and tools, many people have been donating their time to see this project through.  According to Makers Mill’s Executive Director, Josh Arnold, more than 700 hours have been logged in 2022 alone toward much of the finish work and workspace build outs. 

“The volunteer turnout has been incredible.  In order to cut down on construction costs, we saved nearly all of the interior painting for our team of volunteers, as well as the build out of the kitchenette, workbenches, greeter’s desk, dust collection system, tool restoration, and so much more which is still underway,” says Josh. “Equally impressive has been the amount of time volunteers have spent carefully thinking through the floor plans for each shop, how tools will be stored, organized, and inventoried, and all of the different policies and procedures needed to open in a manner that is welcoming and safe.” 

When can we expect the grand opening?

Now that their certificate of occupancy has been issued, when can we expect a grand opening?  While preparations are still underway, it sounds like we can expect news of a “soft opening” later in August with a series of weekly open-houses and tours.  These will spread out the introduction of this new facility to the community, allowing ample space and time for people to have their questions answered while also keeping group sizes small to help mitigate the lingering covid risk. A larger event will be planned for a later date when the shops are more furnished and the organization can solicit sponsors for entertainment and refreshments. 

Upcoming classes in the works…

Classes and workshops, however, are already being put on the calendar for the fall and are expected to be ongoing thereafter.  If you or anyone you know is interested in teaching a class, contact Makers Mill’s Program Director, Carol Holyoake by emailing carol@makersmill.org or calling the office at 603-569-1500.   Membership options will be posted soon for people to learn how to access the forthcoming community workspaces for woodworking, metalworking, fiber arts, fine arts, crafts, electronics, robotics, computer software and media, bicycle and ski tuning, and much more. 

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