By Michael Jacobs

Only one contractor has bid to build the new tennis center in Chastain Park, and the amount was 30 percent over the budget.

Atlanta’s director of park design, Paul Taylor, met with the Chastain Park Conservancy and representatives of the Chastain Park Civic Association on Monday night, Feb. 2, to discuss the bidding and the options going forward.

Ray Mock, who works with the conservancy and is the chairman of Neighborhood Planning Unit A, passed along the tennis news at the monthly meeting of NPU-A on Tuesday night.

Mock said he was told 25 to 40 contractors paid to get the specifications for the tennis center, but only one bothered to bid because of a “little quirk” added to the bid package.

It was always part of the specifications for the center to earn Silver status under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building standards, Mock said, but “at the last minute they made a requirement that the contractor had built at least one LEED-certified building somewhere along the line.”

Still, the bidding glitch could prove to be beneficial.

Costs for construction materials and labor are falling, so rebidding now could produce the kind of savings that developer Ben Carter is seeking at the Streets of Buckhead and that the city of Sandy Springs is seeing in the bids for a major road-widening project.

Also, city officials and architect Harrison Design Associates, which did the work pro bono, started eliminating unnecessary elements.

For example, the plans called for a commercial kitchen and a generator so the tennis center could serve as a haven in a disaster. Both were dropped.

“It’s sort of a tangled mess, but it’s all resolvable, and it’s in the works,” Mock said.

The tennis center became controversial last summer when the Chastain Park Civic Association complained that it was going to be too big — more than 2,600 square feet, compared with 1,100 square feet for the current center — and didn’t add a 10th tennis court to the complex. The city stuck with the larger center.

The project relies on an $800,000 opportunity grant financed with city bonds, and Mock said the city is kicking in additional money from a park trust fund to enhance the tennis courts.

The conservancy, civic association and city finalized the tennis center plans under a time crunch, believing that the project had to be put out for bid before the end of 2008 to avoid losing the opportunity grant. Mock said it turns out that the grant money is safe through the end of 2010.

He said the city will decide within three weeks whether to rebid the tennis center.