Low Bid for New Downtown Wheeling Parking Garage Is $12.3 Million
WHEELING — Bids for the construction of the proposed Market Street parking structure have been received, and members of Wheeling City Council are scheduled to meet today to consider a first reading on an ordinance to award the low bidder a contract for nearly $12.3 million.
A special council meeting was scheduled to take place at noon today in council chambers at the City-County Building for the sole purpose of discussing the new legislation and to hold a first reading for the new ordinance. The legislation authorizes City Manager Robert Herron to spend $12,297,777 with Carl Walker Construction of Pittsburgh for construction of the new Market Street parking garage at the corner of 11th Street downtown.
A second reading and final approval of the ordinance is expected to take place during the next regular meeting of Wheeling City Council on Dec. 7.
On Monday, Herron indicated the special meeting is being held because timing is crucial to keep costs in check on major projects like this one.
“Due to the current construction market and the potential for pricing changes, we have a 30-day hold on the bids, thus the special meeting for the first reading,” Herron said.
In order to generate funds for the project, the city recently approved legislation authorizing the issuance of lease revenue bonds through the newly activated Wheeling Municipal Building Commission. The project bonds are scheduled to close on Dec. 16, according to the city manager.
Herron described Carl Walker Construction as a very reputable contractor that submitted the lowest bid among the four firms that submitted bids for the project. Other bids included a $16,730,000 bid from Thomarios, a contractor with offices in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Akron, Ohio; a $15,284,000 bid from Cps Construction Group of Cranberry Township, Pa.; and a $17,173,000 bid from Colaianni Construction of Dillonvale.
“The low bidder is an experienced parking structure contractor, and the bid is very good — very close to where we thought it would be to begin with,” Herron said. “The architect’s estimate and our budget going into the bids was $13,023,000.”
There are additional costs associated with construction, the city manager explained. Material testing costs during construction is estimated to be an additional $45,000, and garage access and traffic control is expected to cost another $250,000, he said. This still brings the total construction costs to $12,592,000, which is within the original budget.
During recent council meetings, city leaders had received some public criticism about the escalating costs of the project, which is being completed to help facilitate a $30 million private investment into the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel headquarters. The vacant, 12-story structure is being converted into an apartment complex to be known as the Historic Wheeling-Pitt Lofts, a project by owner Dr. John Johnson’s Access Infrastructure LLC and developer Steve Coon of Coon Restoration and Sealants.
The six-story parking garage will provide needed parking for tenants of the 120-apartment complex, and it will provide additional parking for other downtown commerce. The ground level of the parking garage is expected to have retail units that are expected to eventually be filled with businesses that support the additional influx of downtown residents.
Officials have touted developers’ contention that there is a great need for new residential options in downtown Wheeling.
Initial projections for the overall cost of the Market Street parking structure ranged between $13 million up to around $17 million, as concerns over construction costs during the supply chain crisis and issues with geotechnical issues at the site caused cost projections to escalate.
Aside from the construction costs, the city authorized an expenditure of $194,800 to hire the Mills Group to perform architectural services for the parking structure’s design. The city also authorized the expenditure of $475,000 with Raze International of Shadyside for asbestos abatement and demolition of the vacant Chase Bank building on Market Street, where a portion of the new parking structure will sit.
“Asbestos abatement is complete, and demolition is imminent,” Herron said Monday, noting that a status meeting with officials from Raze had been scheduled that afternoon. “The parking structure construction, if approved by city council, is scheduled to begin right after the first of the year.”