Pier construction bids rejected

Anna Maria pier bids
This historic Anna Maria City Pier built in 1911-12 is gone and a new pier is slated to reopen in late 2019. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – The city pier has been demolished, and the search continues for a construction firm to build the new pier.

Last week, city commissioners unanimously supported Mayor Dan Murphy’s recommendation to reject the two bids recently received for the construction of the new city pier platform. The commission’s Thursday, July 26 decision means a revised request for proposals (RFP) will be issued in hopes of getting a lower price.

Largo-based Speeler & Associates completed the demolition of the pier on Thursday, July 26 at a contracted cost of $732,000 and finished well ahead of its Sept. 30 deadline. Speeler was one of two firms that responded to the pier construction RFP and their bid was $3.72 million.

Tampa-based i+iconSOUTHEAST bid $4.13 million. Icon is currently the prime marine subcontractor for the construction of the new pier in St. Petersburg.

Murphy hoped for something closer to $2.5 million for the initial phase of construction that will include the main pier platform, the T-end platform and all utility lines and pipes. The RFP did not include the construction of a new restaurant and bait shop at the pier’s T-end. Those elements will be addressed in a future RFP because negotiations with current pier tenant Mario Schoenfelder remain ongoing regarding his potential financial contributions and future role on the pier.

The pier project is slated for a December 2019 completion date and Schoenfelder’s current lease expires in December 2020. Schoenfelder has provided Murphy and the architect with preliminary insight on design elements he’d like to see included in the building plans, and those discussions continue. If Schoenfelder and the city cannot come to mutually agreeable terms, a new pier tenant will be sought.

Bids rejected

“Both companies have the credentials to do the work. The problem comes in the prices they gave us,” Murphy told the commission. “We felt pretty confident the numbers should come to $2.5 (million).”

Murphy said that estimated figure was based on the construction materials specified in the RFP that included the concrete pilings, and the Kebony hardwood decking and building siding selected by the City Commission. Additional pricing information was obtained from the Florida Department of Transportation and other governmental agencies. Murphy said new tariffs on imported steel and concrete have increased prices on construction materials, but not enough to drive the bids above $3.5 million.

Murphy said the two bidders differed significantly in their projected costs for the concrete pilings. Those costs include the logistics of pre-casting the concrete pilings offsite and delivering them by barge or casting them onsite using wet concrete delivered by truck during peak tourist season when traffic is at its heaviest.

Cost reductions

Murphy said the icon representative told him the construction specifications included in the original RFP were extremely high and would have produced “a Rolls Royce of a pier,” but those costs can be lowered while still building a pier with an estimated 75- to 100-year service life.

“We’ve got time. We can redo some of the specs, get more input and then we can go back to not only Speeler and icon, but there were nine other people interested in bidding on this project. This is a high-profile project. I know we can do better,” Murphy said of the initial bids.

“We’re going to tweak some of the specifications and see if we can’t come back in with a number that we can live with; $2.5 (million) is the magic number. I still want high quality. Maybe not a Rolls Royce, but a Lexus instead,” Murphy said.

Commissioner Brian Seymour asked how the issuance of a second RFP would impact the anticipated date for construction to begin.

“It’s going to be late September instead of early September,” Murphy said.

Murphy and the commission have been working under the assumption that the pier replacement project would cost approximately $4.5 million in its entirety. More than $2.5 million in state and county funds have already been secured. Murphy is hoping for at least another $1 million in FEMA funds the city is eligible for because of damage the pier sustained during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

The old pier was built in 1911-12 and repaired several times.

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