Work on the city’s $10 million police station project has stalled because two key parts of the project will have to be rebid, delaying the project by at least six months and adding extra costs.
Bids for plumbing and general trades, the two remaining projects and about $6 million of the project, came in 10% above the estimate and were put out for rebid Dec. 8, Mayor Pamela Bobst said.
“If any bid is over 10% of what the engineer estimated for the work needed, it must be rebid,” Bobst said.
Re-bids for plumbing and general trades will be opened on Friday. If the rebids for plumbing and general trades come in above 10% again, Bowen Associates will conduct an investigation into why contractors are bidding the way they are. From there, they will give a recommendation to the city whether they should rebid, change their cost estimate for the project or scale back the scope of the project.
The delay will mean at least $17,250 will be added to the project’s cost because the city will have to rent space for the police department for an additional six months, according to Moran, who is council president.
Ward 1 Councilman Thomas Hunt and Ward 2 Councilman James Moran declined to comment about the station’s bidding process.
A strong economy has increased the demand for construction projects, allowing companies to bid at higher prices, said Ken Emling, a project manager at Bowen Associates, a Cleveland design firm.
“Let’s put it this way: If contractors were really hungry for work, they’d sharpen their pencils and figure something out,” Emling said. “However, everybody’s busy and when they’re busy and overloaded with work, they don’t.”
The city set up a two-phase bid process for the police station construction. The first phase, demolition and site preparation, was put out for bid early last year. That work began in August and cost the city $1.1 million. In August, the city put out bids for the $10 million building.
“This is common practice, to do an early bid package for site work and demolition industry wide,” Emling said. “If you have a project where you have an existing building that needs to come down, it’s advantageous to the project to get that building down so that when the time comes, construction can begin immediately.”
Breaking the bidding process into two phases is more cost effective and less time consuming, he said.
Bids for the building’s elevator, fire suppression system and electric work were opened on Sept. 6 and came in at 1% under the engineer’s estimate. The city opened bids for the building’s HVAC, plumbing and general trades on Nov. 22. The HVAC came in at 8% above the engineer’s estimate.
Contractors who won the bids for the electric, elevator, fire suppression and HVAC s work have not expressed any interest in leaving the project for the foreseeable future with the expectation that construction will begin in March, Emling said.
Public concerns regarding the delays began on social media after a news story from TV station Cleveland19 was published online.
“Who the hell tears down a building before finalizing the new one?” James Cahill wrote in a Facebook post on Dec. 7.
The city has proposed to build a police station that will be triple the size of its predecessor and will incorporate modern amenities that meet state standards. They include an updated evidence locker, jail cells and a larger firing range for the department, according to Bobst.
The police department is temporarily stationed at Westgate Plaza off Linden Road. But that move, completed Aug. 1, also created problems. Less than two months later, city inspectors cited the landlord for numerous health and safety violations in the seven-story building following an investigation by West Life. The city also learned that that the owner, Canadian Dr. Ross Chiaramonte, had not paid the building’s property taxes the previous year and owed the county over $90,000 in property taxes. In October, the city referred the matter to the county for possible foreclosure if the landlord did not start paying what he owes.
As of Friday, Chiaramonte owes $183,138 in county property taxes, including interest on the past-due amount and this year’s property taxes, according to the Cuyahoga County website.
Bobst urged residents who want to learn more about the project and its progress to contact the city.
“There’s nothing unusual about this process and I would be happy to give them the facts about it,” she said.
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