Sunday , January 29 2023

Council sends demolition proposal back to staff to reevaluate cost

During the San Bernardino City Council meeting on Wednesday, councilmembers considered awarding a design/build contract with Resource Environmental to demolish the Carousel Mall. However, the price tag made members think twice.

On July 26, the City solicited bids from qualified firms to plan and execute the demolition of the Carousel Mall. Six companies submitted a proposal. Staff evaluated the proposals and determined that Resource Environmental, Inc. was the best firm for the job – the cost $7.7 million.

City staff subsequently added a contingency of $2.3 million, should unforeseen issues arise during the demo bringing the total price to $10 million.

“The Carousel Mall has been in existence for almost 50 years… I think this is a very important project here before the council. We have already seen the effects of neglect and not securing the property,” said Mayor Valdivia ahead of the council discussion.

He then went on to question staff as to the reason for the $2.3 million allowance.

“My question to you Mr. Hernandez, Mr. Field is why the $2.6 million allowance and where is the need? Because normal standard operating is about a 10 percent contingency.”

Staff assured the council that Resource did its due diligence assessing the mall, including taking samples during the walk-through portion of the bid process to conduct an environmental analysis.

“Well it’s a very complex project,” said City Manager Rob Field. “There is the potential to find things underground, for example, that we don’t know about. We wanted to provide enough funding up front, that we didn’t have to come back to the council and ask for additional funding.”

Councilmember Kimberly Calvin was quite concerned, citing “we don’t know what any environmental reports might say.”

“Those reports were supposed to come before the Ad-Hoc Committee quite some time ago.  We’ve been waiting on those for a very long time,” said Councilmember Calvin. “We have a responsibility to be able to look at that documentation in order to let the community know that this demolition is not going to be harming everybody else in the community.”

Councilmember Ben Reynoso agreed with Calvin’s sentiments and wanted to know how the city was going to recoup the cost of demolition.

“… this is premature, it feels halfcocked,” said Reynoso. “Who’s going to buy that? No one’s going to buy this property knowing they’re $7.8 million in the hole.”

Field said leveling Carousel Mall would make the property more developable and any subsequent sale proceeds would go to payback the cost of the demolition project.

Staff reports did not include the bids from other companies making fourth Ward Councilmember Fred Shorett was curious where the other bids came in at.

“Wow, that’s a pretty nice allowance,” Shorett chimed in. “I get a contingency, but where are the other bids and did the other bids require an allowance?”

The council ultimately voted to have staff go back and reevaluate all the bids once more and return on December 7 with a new contract recommendation. The Council also requested that no change orders be allowed should Resource Environmental be the recommended contractor.

Council members Theodore Sanchez, Sandra Ibarra, Juan Figueroa, Fred Shorett and Damon Alexander voted in favor. Council members Calvin and Reynoso opposed.

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