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Bridgeport Indoor Sports and Recreation Complex Bids Come in Under Anticipated Range at $37 Million

May 10, 2019
After working for his father’s business and running many of his own, Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang knows the bid process on projects doesn’t always go as hoped. When you’re dealing with a project estimated to be in the tens of millions, the chances for things to become unusual are even greater.
Something unusual happened during today’s bid opening for the main building at the Bridgeport Indoor Sports and Recreation Complex. And as it turned out, what was unusual was good news for the city, its residents and the region when it comes to the facility.
Not only did the bids come in under the high end of what was projected, but the bids were amazingly close. In fact, the four general contractors had a difference from the high bid to the low bid of just $636,000.
While that may seem like a lot, the low bid for the project was $37 million from Albert M. (A.M.) Higley Company out of Pittsburgh. The high bid was $37,636,000 by March-Westin Company. The other two bids were by City Construction for $37,312,000 and Mascaro Corporation for $37,300,000.
“That was very strange to have four bidders that are completely separated from each being from out of state and locally and all came within, if you do the math within a half a percentage point of each,” said Bridgeport Mayor Andy Lang. “That’s on what looks like it’s going to be a $37 million project. That’s just remarkable.”
Architect Richard Forren of Omni Associates, whose firm is heading up the project, said the numbers were “unusually close” and “makes us happy.” He said with them close and under the high end that it leaves everything in good shape.
“Our recommendation is going to be to go with the full project. We can pick up the add alternate the contractors bid on as well,” said Forren.
The add alternate was for just such a scenario of the bids being under budget. The city could add to the project immediately if they opt to do so. Higley’s cost to do the add alternate is $85,000.
Forren said it will be to make the exterior of the building look nicer. He said it’s a thin brick that’s in laid into the precast concrete.
“We don’t the building to look like a correctional facility. We want it to look like a recreational facility,” said Lang, who was pleased to know this is a very possible reality now to be added.
Lang said the project seeing close bids from the four contractors also eliminates a worry. He said it’s a worry you have just about on any project, including ones in the tens of thousands let alone one nearing $40 million.
“The concern you always have is that the low bidder is so much lower than the average you’re concerned they got something wrong. It’s pretty obvious that with all of these quality bidders being in the same price range that you should have confidence in the bidding and they know what they’re doing,” Lang said.
Lang said the $40 million number wasn’t actually an estimate, but a price range where the city felt comfortable it could get to if necessary. He also said being under that number opens the door for something else.
“We could maybe add a couple of things. That’s why we did the master plan for the entire facility, so we could know what possibly could be next,” said Lang.
Now, the bids that were opened and read aloud by Community Development Director Andrea Kerr will be reviewed. That is to not only determine the low bid, which they know, but to determine if all criteria in the bid have been met.
“Over the next week or so we’ll do our due diligence to go through the process to make sure they’ve turned in everything, things like having available bonding, and then we’ll come back to Council with a recommendation,” said Forren.
Lang said he hopes to have that happen by the end of the month. He said the tentative plan is to have Council act on a recommendation from Forren and city staff at the Tuesday, May 28 meeting. If A.M. Higley remains the responsible low bidder, they have said they need 485 calendar days to complete the job.
The indoor portion of the Bridgeport Recreation Complex has been in the works since before 2016. It will house multiple basketball courts, a competitive swimming pool, indoor walking track, conference rooms, a concession area and a host of other amenities. It is funded with a 1 percent sales tax enacted by the city as part of its Home Rule designation.
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Richard Forren of Omni Associates announcing the start of the bid opening at 2 p.m., while the second photo shows Bridgeport Community Development Director Andrea Kerr opening a bid as Omni's Reuben Loush enters the bid results and City Manager Kim Haws looks on in the background. Bottom photo shows Mayor Andy Lang, right, pointing out numbers on the bid to Parks and Recreation Director Joe Shuttleworth and City Engineer Beth Fox looks on.