Aspen still owes $1M to Burlingame contractor
ASPEN – It’s been more than three years since the first families moved into Burlingame Ranch and the city is still withholding $1 million from the contractor for unresolved issues relating to the construction of the affordable housing project.
Until Aspen officials consider phase one of the project complete, Shaw Builders won’t receive the remaining money owed, said Steve Bossart, the city’s asset project manager who has overseen the Burlingame project since construction began on the existing 84 multifamily units and seven single-family homes.
Bossart said about 95 percent of the project has been completed to the city’s satisfaction but there are still a few outstanding issues like landscaping and seeding that officials don’t consider acceptable.
“They’ve made tremendous progress but not on everything,” Bossart said. “It’s incumbent upon us to hold the money until the work is complete.
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“We have a responsibility to the homeowners and the citizens of Aspen to get that 5 percent complete.”
Clark Atkinson, executive vice president of Shaw, said he understands the city’s position and is confident his company will satisfy its contract.
With phases two and three now being planned, which include another 167 mutlifamily units, Shaw submitted a proposal to the city in January to be the contractor at risk for the next development.
A selection committee is currently reviewing proposals and will make a recommendation to the Aspen City Council in the near future on who should be awarded the multimillion-dollar contract.
Atkinson said he doesn’t think the city’s outstanding issues with his company will hurt Shaw’s chances to win the bid for the next development phase.
“None of these issues came up in the interview,” he said of a Jan. 26 meeting with the selection committee.
Bossart said there’s no reason Shaw doesn’t have a chance at winning the bid.
“There’s nothing that’s happened that doesn’t make them a viable candidate,” he said, adding that Shaw had difficulty with subcontractors.
The one major issue that has yet to be resolved is the landscaping. Atkinson said some areas were re-sodded last summer to correct the failures made by the subcontractor but there were also factors at play.
“But the kids and family loved it so much it wore out … it was loved to death,” Atkinson said, adding more seeding will be done this year which hopefully will be to the city’s satisfaction.
Last year, Atkinson told The Times he didn’t think Shaw should be held responsible for wear and tear of the sod. But apparently the relatively small amount of money it will take to correct the problem in order to get paid the remaining $1 million is a driving motivator.
“We’re playing along, what else can we do?” he said. “Shaw has performed for the city and we’ve had disagreements with the city but we are a team player … we’re going to get paid and it’s all going to work out.”
Bossart said the city is mostly satisfied with the other issues that Shaw has addressed over the past year and has paid $200,000 toward the amount being withheld.
The more significant issue was a leaking roof that was a result of the city’s request to mount a photovoltaic solar panel system, according to Atkinson. The penetration of the panels caused leaks.
Atkinson had contended that the roof was never designed for that kind of solar system. But Shaw eventually replaced the metal with a different material that can expand and contract with weather.
Bossart said last year when the subcontractor repaired the leaks on the roof, which were damaged from snow and ice, government officials questioned the work – based on the advice of a consultant the city hired.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to do that,” he said.
Bossart said the cost of that consultant will be deducted from Shaw’s final payment.
Also outstanding were the solar hot water and fire alarm systems, as well as the sprinklers, which Bossart said last year were inadequate based on inspections conducted by outside consultants.
A leak was discovered in the hot water system, which damaged a unit. And panel sensitivity and false signals were found in the fire alarm system.
Bossart said it appears Shaw has fixed the hot water system, but one more inspection is needed for the fire alarm and sprinklers.
“There’s a couple of things that we want to check on,” Bossart said.
The city has paid Shaw $35.5 million for the first phase of Burlingame. The final phases are estimated to cost between $78 and $85 million, which includes all aspects of the project.
Atkinson told the Times last year that the company lost money on constructing phase one of Burlingame.
As the developer of Burlingame Ranch, the city of Aspen has been under public scrutiny in recent years over whether it’s capable of effectively managing such a large capital project.
That’s why for the next development phase, the city isn’t using the traditional “design-build” approach where the contractor is motivated by making a profit and keeping costs down. This time around, the city is employing what’s called an “integrated project delivery” approach.
It entails an owner’s agent, an architect/design team, a contractor at risk and a commissioning agent. The goal is to develop a guaranteed maximum price bid with more oversight than the first phase.
“It is an extremely positive step forward,” Bossart said.
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