The Andover High School building committee voted to recommend building a new high school with an auditorium and demolishing the Collins Center to the select board and school committee at its meeting Thursday morning.

At $480.9 million, it was the cheapest of the three options the committee considered, but would still be the most expensive project in Town history. A schematic design process will deliver a more accurate price before the proposal is put up for final approval at a special Town Meeting and a special election next year.

The committee had planned to ask Town Meeting next month for $1.3 million for the design but withdrew its warrant article after officials realized the town was nearing its state-mandated debt limit. Chair Mark Johnson said Friday morning he was hoping the debt issue could be resolved this summer, allowing the building committee to ask for special Town Meeting approval for the funding later this year.

If the preliminary, $480.9 million cost estimate holds up through schematic design and voters approve the project, the average Andover residential property taxpayer would see their tax bill increase $1,740 to $2,215 for the next 30 years, based on the average single-family house assessment of $858,952. The table below shows the estimated taxes for the average home based on potential interest rates for the plan known as “Campus 2 with auditorium”:

Source: Andover High School Building Committee

The other two plans the building committee considered would have cost taxpayers significantly more than the “Campus 2 with auditorium” selected. Renovating the existing school would have cost an estimated $567.9 million, while building a new school and upgrading the Collins Center would cost $503.8 million, according to preliminary estimates released last month.

Stock photo.

One thought on “Committee Recommends Building New AHS”
  1. Two more relevant points here. One, this cost estimate is before and not including any of the list of options that might still get added to the project. The most expensive of those is a ~$45M parking garage, and the list includes many other $millions options including more turf fields, field lighting, ground source heating, etc. Two, the Debt Service line in the summary above illustrates why waiting a couple of years could make this project less expensive. The world widely expects interest rates to peak very soon and then drift downward. As the table shows, the cost of borrowing at 3.5% compared to 5% saves ~$5M. On top, commercial construction continues to slow and costs of many building materials, both inflated considerably during COVID, are likely to hold steady or even decline as suppliers and contractors get more hungry.

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