Yesterday, at exactly 3:15 p.m., the Request for Proposals process for the South Park Street redevelopment project closed, with four contractors submitting. The lowest of the bids was just shy of a million dollars — $250K more than the allocated budget.
In addition to contractor representatives and a handful of municipal employees, the project’s architectural team and Councilor Cary Africk were present for the bid opening. Following the reading of the last bid, the mood was somewhat stunned, though Erik Maran, Principal of Smith Maran (pictured below, on left), Dave Lustburg of Arterial (pictured below, on right), and Montclair Township Engineer, Kimberli Craft all agreed that not hitting the target on the first pass is a normal part of the bidding process.
“It’s higher than the engineers estimated, but we’ll conduct a value engineering process to review the design, scope of the project, materials, etc. and try and get the cost down,” said Craft.
“These bids are very disappointing,” said Africk, a vocal proponent of the project. “Re-designs will be evaluated. No one is saying “well, we’ll just have to increase the numbers!”
“I met with members of the Montclair Business Improvement District and the project’s Architects following the opening of bids,” Africk told Baristanet. “With them, and the town engineering staff, efforts are planned for a thorough review of the bid items, with the goal of reaching the planned project budget numbers.”
The project is targeted for a September start and a late October completion, but it’s unclear how yesterday’s bid process will affect that. While the group’s immediate reaction was obvious and they admitted disappointment, ultimately all agreed that they were optimistic — although it took a few minutes for them to reach that cautiously upbeat note.