Complications on Uplands project

Contractor protests infrastructure contract award

  • Former Mayor Sheila Dixon is among the audience members at a ceremony to break ground on a $200 million development at the former site of the Uplands apartments in Southwest Baltimore.
Former Mayor Sheila Dixon is among the audience members at a… (Provided to The Baltimore…)
October 05, 2010|By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun

Less than a week after city and state officials celebrated a groundbreaking for a major redevelopment project in Southwest Baltimore, a decision to award an $18.3 million contract for work at the site is being contested.

Representatives from a Cheverly company plan to protest at Wednesday's meeting of the city Board of Estimates over a recommendation to award a contract to Monumental Paving & Excavating to grade land and install water and wastewater pipes, curbs, gutters and storm drains at the Uplands site.

Civil Construction LLC submitted a bid to complete the project for $800,000 less than Monumental, a Baltimore company.

The protest could delay work on the Uplands project, a 100-acre development centered on the site of a former publicly subsidized apartment complex. The project is to include 1,100 apartments, condominiums, townhouses and "mansionettes," designed to have the ambiance of a suburban neighborhood within city limits.

Gov. Martin O'Malley, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and former Mayor Sheila Dixon attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the site Friday, though the infrastructure contract had not been awarded. A master development agreement through which the city awards rights to developers has not been finalized.

Cheron Porter, a spokeswoman for Baltimore's housing department, said the groundbreaking was scheduled as a kickoff to Housing America Month.

"In a development of this size, there will always be another step to take," she wrote in an e-mail. "We felt, given how close we are to moving ahead, that it was appropriate."

Officials chose Monumental because the company was the lowest bidder that met a start-up cost limit set by the city as well as participation from women-owned businesses, said Jamie Kendrick, deputy director of the city Transportation Department.

Civil Construction did not appear to make a "good-faith effort" to include women-owned businesses and made rushed calls to subcontractors shortly before submitting the bid, Kendrick said.

But officials with Civil Construction contend that the company's bid was dismissed because of technicalities. In a letter of protest submitted to the Board of Estimates, they note that though they missed the goal for women-owned participation, they exceeded the requirement for minority-owned businesses.

The company also disputed $1.9 million in hauling work that Monumental pledged to subcontract to minority firms, saying that there is not enough work to merit that cost.

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