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Garage Spending A Necessary Price

Spending $12.3 million in taxpayer funds on a new parking garage should never be looked at as a good thing, but we can say the low bid for the new garage at 11th and Market streets, coming in about $5 million below the city’s top-end estimates, was the best bit of overspending news we’ve witnessed in some time.

Members of Wheeling City Council on Tuesday heard first reading of an ordinance that would see a contract for the new parking garage awarded to Carl Walker Construction of Pittsburgh, at a cost of $12.297 million.

That’s a far cry from the $17 million city officials feared it would cost to construct the new facility.

The garage, along with servicing workers in that area of downtown — it sits almost directly across from The Health Plan’s new building, and next to the Federal Building — is being built to facilitate the development of the Historic Wheeling-Pitt Lofts. Developer Steve Coon is leading a $30 million renovation of the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel headquarters into 120 high-end loft apartments, and parking is needed for the tenants.

“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.

Three other bids were submitted: $16.7 million from Thomarios, a contractor with offices in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Akron, Ohio; a $15.3 million bid from CPS Construction Group of Cranberry Township, Pa.; and a $17.2 million bid from Colaianni Construction of Dillonvale.

There has been a complaint filed against Carl Walker Construction’s bid, though, as John Fratto of CPS Construction appeared before council last week questioning the low bid. The firm also has filed a written protest to the city detailing its concerns.

Herron said Wheeling architect Victor Greco has reviewed the bid from Carl White and has found it to be in compliance with the bid specifications.

As we’ve said previously, the rehabilitation of the Wheeling-Pitt building into loft apartments is a win for downtown. It is the tallest downtown structure, and letting it fall further into disrepair would simply have been irresponsible.

What’s not irresponsible, though, is ensuring that if the low bid is selected at the next council meeting, the contractor gets the job done, as advertised, for the bid price of $12.3 million.

That will be yet another win for the city with this project.

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