CLEARWATER - The City Council approved the award of a contract totaling $8.95-million for construction of the Cleveland Street Streetscape project during their April 20th meeting. The improvement in public facilities is hoped to act as a catalyst for private investment in downtown redevelopment.
Only two contractors had bid on the project: Gibbs and Register, and David Nelson Construction. Their proposals include two alternatives, one for a project duration of 18 months with 2 lanes of traffic maintained throughout construction, and one for a construction period of twelve months, with Cleveland Street closed for the duration.
The two proposals far exceeded the project's $6.2 million cost estimate, Gibbs and register offering a low bid of $11.3-million for the 18-month project versus Nelson's low bid of $10.6 million for the 12-month alternative. Mahshid Arasteh, Clearwater's Public Works Administrator, recommended the Gibbs and Register proposal despite its higher cost, claiming that the minimal savings from the 12-month alternative did not offset the impacts of a total road closure.
To make the project doable financially, the City's made efforts to reduce costs, identify additional funding sources, and divert funds from other projects.
The Public Works Department managed to reduce project cost by $2.3-million for a new contract total of $8.95-million. Arasteh itemized the cost reduction items during last Monday's Council Work Session; they include:
But the largest reduction, $1,277,000, came from the postponement of improvements to Station Square Park. Arasteh explained that the park is being used as staging area for the construction of Station Square Condominiums, and it would be premature to include its improvements in the streetscape project.
Arasteh said that the Station Square Park renovation would be put out to bid at a later time, and will be paid for with Downtown CRA incremental tax revenue or funds expected from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in 2006 and 2008 totaling $2.29-million. Those funds were originally budgeted by FDOT for the repaving of Cleveland Street east of the Streetscape project. Arasteh did not identify how the future repaving of Cleveland Street would be financed.
Part of the increased cost will be funded from other Public Works project accounts, including:
Arasteh did not explain whether other Public Works projects might be delayed or if Water, Sewer and Stormwater rates might need to be increased as a result of using those funds for the Streetscape project.
Clearwater's Finance Department contributed an $834-thousand loan from the Central Insurance Fund's unrestricted net assets. The Insurance Fund will be repaid from future Downtown CRA tax increment cash flow, or from the FDOT repaving funds, Arasteh said. Finance also contributed $630-thousand of unallocated Pennies for Pinellas funds to the project.
The construction start date has not yet been determined, pending a shop drawing review and contractor mobilization. The project is projected to be complete within 18 months.
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