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Architect for Aspen’s Burlingame may not be local

ASPEN – City officials are recommending that a Denver architecture firm be hired to design the next phase of Burlingame Ranch, rather than architects based in Aspen.

The Aspen City Council Tuesday will discuss and possibly decide whether OZ Architecture should be awarded $814,759 as an initial design contract for phase two of the city-developed affordable housing complex off Highway 82, across from Buttermilk.

Top city officials are recommending OZ over the next closest bidder, Poss Architecture and Planning, because the out-of-town firm’s bid was more than $1 million lower.

As part of the city’s request for proposals, OZ Architecture bid $1,675,786 for the design and construction phases. Poss’ bid came in at $2,739,130, according to a memo to the council from Chris Everson, the city’s affordable housing project manager.

OZ Architecture’s bid was lower than the city’s total $4.3 million budget for the work. Poss Architecture, which designed the first phase of Burlingame, was also below the city’s budget, but the bid was 57 percent higher than the lowest bid.

“The architect selection committee is recommending [the] contract [be awarded] to OZ Architecture primarily due to the [more than] $1 million savings over Poss, but the selection committee would like to suggest that council carefully weigh the budget considerations as they compare to the local versus non-local component of the architect teams described herein,” the memo states. “The recommendation is intended to be as cost efficient as possible while also ensuring a high quality of service.”

Everson also pointed out that some additional costs are likely, and they could cause a contract with Poss to end up slightly more than the original budget whereas significant savings would still be realized with OZ.

City officials recognize the pros and cons in hiring either firm. On the plus side, Poss has intimate knowledge of the lessons learned from the first phase at Burlingame; many of its consultants have laid the groundwork for the second phase, and it will take less time to get the team up to speed on the overall project, according to Everson. In addition, the firm is local and has proposed a “very strong” public process, according to the memo.

On the con side, Poss’ involvement on phase one didn’t translate into fee savings, Everson wrote.

OZ Architecture has strong references and is experienced in designing multifamily housing. Also, the firm could bring a fresh perspective to the Burlingame project, according to Everson.

But working against the firm is the fact that it isn’t local, and isn’t familiar with phase one or the consultants; therefore it would take more time to get the team up to speed, Everson wrote.

The new approach for phase two is being called “Integrated Project Delivery” (IPD), which entails hiring a program manager, a design team, a contractor and a commissioning agent.

The selection committee also is recommending that the city hire Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB), a global property and construction practice, as an owner’s agent. The recommended contract award is $301,400 for initial work on the second phase, which involves building 258 units.

The objective of the IPD team approach is to develop a cost-efficient, high-quality design for the project and develop a guaranteed maximum price bid by this June, according to Everson.

While RLB was the highest bidder of three finalists, city officials say the firm would deliver the best product and meet the city’s goals better than the others.

The city’s budget for an owner’s agent is $424,600. RLB’s bid is $421,150.

The selection committees for both contracts are asking the council to make a decision tonight so the design effort can be kicked off as soon as possible. If approved the contracts can be formally approved Jan. 25.

The council is scheduled to discuss the contracts at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the basement of City Hall.

csack@aspentimes.com


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