Las Vegas Sun

July 17, 2019

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City Hall expansion contract faces lawsuit

With a lawsuit already looming over a long-delayed municipal parking garage that opened Monday, Henderson officials learned they will face yet another lawsuit over the award Tuesday of a $39.5 million construction contract to quadruple the size of City Hall.

The contract was awarded to Dick Corp., an international construction company headquartered in Pittsburgh.

The legal controversy stems from a last-minute bid hike by a California-based electrical subcontractor listed by both Dick Corp. and by another of the four competing companies -- Colorado-based PCL Construction Services.

On bid-day in November, with less than an hour before bids closed, subcontractor Helix Electric faxed Dick Corp. and PCL Construction Services that it was upping its cost estimates from $5.2 million to $5.85 million.

Because it violates state regulations to change a bid after the bids are opened, Helix has been barred temporarily from using the services of the Southern Nevada Subcontractors Bid Depository, a privately run, nonprofit agency that provides independent regulation of subcontractors in the public works construction industry. Helix can still bid on state projects.

Dave Burton, vice president of building for Dick Corp. told the Henderson City Council on Tuesday, "We stand by our bid." Burton said whatever the outcome with Helix, whether the company stays on the job or not, he will honor the original bid price.

The Southern Nevada Bid Depository, which monitors projects that require bidding, told Dick Corp. in November that it would recognize the original bid, Burton said. Henderson city attorney Andy Urban agreed, and the City Council chose to award the bid to Dick on Urban's advice.

G. Mark Albright, a Las Vegas attorney for PCL Construction, said after the meeting that he will file a legal challenge today. PCL Construction switched to Bergelectric Corp. after Helix filed its $650,000 cost hike. PCL argues that because it went to another electrical subcontractor, it could no longer be competitive in the bidding and that it was unfair to allow Dick's original bid to stand.

"We'll ask the court to expedite the case," Albright said. "We don't want to hold up the city of Henderson. We hope to have the case resolved within three weeks."

Las Vegas-based KBA Construction, the contractor who completed a 4 1/2 story parking garage on Monday, has also said it may sue the city for problems that led to a five-month delay on a 10-month project.

But Henderson Construction Manager John Simmons has blamed delays on KBA's subcontractors and says the city will collect $4,000 in fines for every day the project was late.

The $7.2 million garage is the first completed part of the $65 million expansion of City Hall.

The prospect Tuesday of yet another lawsuit could mean additional delays for an expansion that Simmons and local architect Mark Hobaica, of HCA Architects, have been planning since 1997.

Planned initially at $12.5 million, the project expanded several times in the past four years as the city -- and city government -- continued to grow at breakneck speed. The city increased the budget to $25 million, $40 million, and then $55 million before finally reaching $65 million in January.

Earlier Tuesday, Hobaica said that Henderson's overcrowded City Hall -- surrounded today by a battery of leased modular units with employees answering phones out of kitchens -- will rival the government buildings of Las Vegas and Clark County after the expansion project is completed in Fall 2004. And Simmons, during an interview Tuesday at his cramped modular offices on Tin Street, said the 283,000 square-foot building will also be cheaper per square foot than most if not all of its valley counterparts. He also said it will be delivered on time.

But after the dispute Tuesday and the promise of a lawsuit, those predictions, along with a scheduled construction start-date of Jan. 21, could be delayed.