City Council aims to lower price of new city hall

During their regular meeting Nov. 17, Kenmore City Council voted to terminate the existing construction contract for the planned new city hall.

During their regular meeting Nov. 17, Kenmore City Council voted to terminate the existing construction contract for the planned new city hall.

Mayor David Baker said, following state law, the city originally had awarded a contract to BN Builders of Seattle to act as the general contractor and construction manager for the project.

The city tried to bid out the contract, Baker said, but got few responses. The city handed BN Builders the work after a selection process that did not include competitive bidding, according to Interim City Manager Frederick Stouder.

The city gained permission from the state to award the project without bids in November of last year. City officials now hope that by sending the project out for bids they can lower the overall price tag, set by council at approximately $12.9 million, according to documents supplied by the city.

Stouder said the initial decision to award the contract without competitive bidding was made in a very different economy.

“This was done at a time when construction companies were very, very busy,” he said.

According to Baker, when the city first requested bids for the project, they received only two or three responses. He said normally he would expect to attract at least a dozen or more proposals.

“Since that time, the economy has totally changed,” Baker added, echoing some of Stouder’s comments.

Stouder said he feels construction companies are now out looking for work, a situation he hopes results in more and better bids for the city-hall work. He said in looking at bids released by surrounding communities over the last two or three months, those bids have come back, in some cases, lower than original estimates. Both he and Baker said it only makes sense for the city to try and take advantage of any opportunity to lower the cost of the city-hall project.

Baker said he expected a call for bids to be advertised in the next two or three weeks, with responses due back by January.

In at least one letter to the city, BN Builders complained Kenmore officials had refused to meet with them regarding the cancellation of the contract. According to Stouder, the original pact contains a clause allowing the city to back out of the agreement. Baker added BN Builders had been “strongly urged” to submit a new bid package.

According to Stouder, the contract with BN Builders split the overall work into phases. He said the company had completed the first portion of the project, which he described as pre-construction services.

According to design plans provided by the city, Kenmore’s new city hall eventually will sit near the corner of 68th Avenue Northeast and a re-aligned Northeast 181st Street, basically across 68th Avenue from the proposed Kenmore Village development.

Again according to documents released by the city, work on the new city hall could get underway in late 2009 or early 2010, even after the project is rebid.