Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 28, 2014

City to hire new contractor for Mitchell Park construction

Palo Alto looks to hire Big-D Pacific Builders to take over botched project from Flintco

by Gennady Sheyner

After firing the contractor responsible for the botched construction of the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center, Palo Alto officials will on Monday select a new company to finish the job.

The City Council is set to select Big-D Pacific Builders to complete the south Palo Alto project, which voters approved in a 2008 bond and which has fallen far behind schedule because of disputes between the city and the original contractor, Flintco Pacific. The city fired Flintco on Jan. 10, citing the company's consistent failure to devote sufficient personnel to the work and to meet deadlines. Since then, the city and Flintco's surety company have negotiated a takeover agreement that will allow a new company to finish the library and community center.

The city selected Big-D largely because of its previous experience in working with the city, according to a news release. The company was in charge of the recent renovation of the Palo Alto Art Center, which was completed on time and under budget. More recently, the city had hired Big-D to be its "on call" contractor for Mitchell Park, the largest of the three library projects voters approved when they passed Measure N.

City officials said in a statement that changing the contractor so late in the game will come at "little or no cost" for the city. As part of its agreement with Flintco, the company had to post a performance bond to protect the city's interests in case the company is unable to complete the job. The takeover agreement caps the total liability for Flintco's surety at $28 million, with the city expected to contribute any additional contract funds that may be needed. The city's announcement noted that "due to the significant delays already occurred, it is anticipated that little if any contract balance funds will be paid to the surety."

In a statement, City Manager James Keene said Big-D has "a good track record with the City, and we are hopeful they will be able to come in and finish this project."

Public Works Director Mike Sartor noted that Big-D is already familiar with the Mitchell Park project.

"We had previously retained Big-D to perform work that Flintco was unable or unwilling to do, and so they are already vetted to work on the project," Sartor said.

Initially pegged for a 2012 completion, the library at 4050 Middlefield Road is now expected be finished this summer.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

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