Fort Wayne City Council appears on track to approve a contract to renovate Renaissance Square, but only if the city agrees to change the way it does business.
Council voted down that contract last week because it wasn't the lowest bid. At Tuesday’s council meeting, city leaders defended the bidding process, but also promised to look at ways to change.
“The city is open to the idea that maybe these need to be re-evaluated on contracts to come,” said Pat Roller,
In return, council appears ready to approve the contract with CCI Commercial Construction and get started on renovations.
“The administration has made a very reasonable compromise on this in saying that, yes, there may be some problems with our bidding procedures, and we'll take a look at them,” said Councilman Tom Smith (R-1st District).
But the low bidder on the project is not happy.
“Unfortunately, I think it's just typical of bad government,” said Clete Schenkel. His firm, Schenkel & Sons, had the lowest overall bid—a combination of the base bid plus the cost for several alternates, or add-ons, to the project.
But Schenkel & Sons didn't get the job.
That's because one part of the city's bid instructions specified the contract would go to the lowest base bidder. In that area, CCI Commercial Construction won. However, CCI will charge more for add-ons, boosting the price tag about $11,000.
Schenkel says awarding a contract on the base bid is not the way the city usually operates.
“If I had to do over again, I think I'd bid one dollar for the whole project, and make all my alternates five and a half million dollars. It makes just that much sense,” said Schenkel.
Roller says the instructions were clear. As far as possible changes for the future, Roller said she wouldn’t “speculate on what those changes should be at this point.”
But Councilman Smith knows exactly what he wants to see changed.
“I think what we want is contracts that are approved based on the lowest overall bid,” said Smith.
A final vote on the Renaissance Square renovation contract will come next week. Smith said it could pass unanimously.