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Apparent low Sterling bidder cut price from ’12

Brdaric’s bid last year was 47 percent higher than the one that was accepted Tuesday.

June 20. 2013 12:54AM

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WILKES-BARRE — The apparent low bidder for the demolition of the Hotel Sterling cut his quote nearly in half from what he submitted last year for the job.

Brdaric Construction of Luzerne bid $419,000 to raze the historic structure on the corner of North River and West Market streets. He quoted $796,000 in June 2012 when the city first put the project out to bid.

The company’s bid opened Tuesday dropped by 47 percent from last year, running counter to expectations that the year difference would lead to higher numbers.

A message left with John Brdaric at his company’s office was not returned Wednesday.

Over the past 12 months one would assume that there would be increases in the cost of goods, services, equipment and prevailing wages, Drew McLaughlin, the city’s municipal affairs manager, said Wednesday.

The scrap price of steel, according to the city’s Office of Community Development director, recently dropped or was expected to drop, leading one to believe the quotes would come in higher, McLaughlin said.

The bid specifications were mainly unchanged as well with no major deletions. There were more concrete provisions on how the building should come down and requirements that items of historical significance be salvaged.

“It’s pretty much identical,” McLaughlin said.

Economy a factor?

It’s possible the economy played a role, making companies more willing to take on work, he added.

Once the contract is awarded, however, the company will be held to the bid because there will be “little to no change-orders,” McLaughlin said.

Like last year, there were 14 contractors who bid on the job. The quotes in 2012 ranged from $486,000 submitted by A.R. Popple, Wilkes-Barre, to $1.12 million from Flynn Wrecking Inc., Pottsville.

Along with Brdaric and A.R. Popple there were five other firms that were repeat bidders: Earthmovers Unlimited Inc., Kylertown; Neuber Environmental Services Inc., Phoenixville; Stell Enterprises Inc., Plains Township; MECO Demolition Inc., Bensalem; and Smart Recycling Co., Dunmore.

Four of the contractors submitted lower bids the second time around: Neuber dropped to $762,000 from $1.08 million in 2012; Stell $542,000 from $788,500; Brdaric $419,000 from $796,000; and A.R. Popple $458,000 from $486,000.

Three of the repeat bidders upped their quotes: Earthmovers $572,419 compared to $492,729 in 2012; MECO $843,000 from $794,900, and Smart Recycling $569,000 from $559,614.

The seven other new bidders were: Ritter & Paratore Contracting Inc., Utica, N.Y., 421,000; SCE Environmental Group, Jefferson Township, 421,500; Dore & Associated Contracting, Bay City, Mich., $468,200; Lycoming Supply Co., Williamsport, $472142; Terra Construction Co., Downington, $574,000; Gorick Construction Co., Binghamton, N.Y., $966,000; and Brandenburg Construction Co., Bethlehem, $1.2 million.

Spearheading demolition

Citing safety and financial reasons, the city took the reins of demolishing the building that has been vacant since 1998 after CityVest, the non-profit owner of the property, refused to join with it and Luzerne County in the project. The county would not agree to release CityVest of Wilkes-Barre from future legal action related to the project.

CityVest tried to prepare the property for development and exhausted its funding, including a $6 million community development loan from the county. CityVest is in the process of dissolving, but the county said it holds a lien on the property for the outstanding loan to CityVest.

To pay for the demolition of the hotel that opened in 1898, the city committed $260,000 in state gambling funds and received approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to use Community Development Block Grant money budgeted for demolition of blighted properties.

McLaughlin said the city will use all of the gambling funds and the savings will come on the Office of Community Development side.

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