Boulder firm finally selected for Aspen housing project
ASPEN – The Aspen City Council on Monday selected an outside architectural firm over a local one to design the next phase of Burlingame Ranch, an affordable housing project near Buttermilk.
The council, in an unanimous vote, upheld a previous recommendation by a city selection committee to award the contract to Boulder-based Oz Architecture.
After questions surfaced about whether the city was getting the services it required for the money it would be paying out, government officials and the project’s newly-hired owner’s agent reviewed for a second time the proposals submitted by three architectural firms.
Oz submitted the lowest bid, at nearly $1.7 million for the design and construction phases. Aspen firm Poss Architecture + Planning, which designed the first phase of Burlingame, submitted a $2.7 million bid, and Aspen firm Charles Cunniffe Architects bid $3.1 million to do the work.
The council voted 3-2 in February to allow Oz Architects, Poss and Charles Cunniffe to clarify their proposals to design 167 units at the city-owned development.
The decision was partly driven by politics about whether a local firm should be hired even though its bid was $1 million more than the out-of-town company, and partly by the public’s confusion over whether the architects are providing the same level of service for the prices they quoted.
At a Feb. 8 meeting, some council members asked whether Oz’s proposal had the same scope of services that Poss’ did, and whether they were “apples to apples” comparisons.
The firms were not allowed to alter the amount of their bids, or to add or subtract services from their original proposals. However, the city sought out further clarification from each of them to ensure their proposals met all of the city’s requirements and there were no differences in the scope of services offered.
All three firms identified additional services that were not asked for in the original request for proposals. And while city officials haven’t analyzed them fully, the additional services offered by Oz appear to outnumber those by Poss and Cunniffe, according to Chris Everson, the city’s affordable housing project manager.
The review left staffers convinced all three firms would do the job satisfactorily, and that all of them would employ some local individuals.
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The state transportation department’s $2.6 million plan to rebuild the roundabout west of Aspen next summer and fall appears to be moving along on schedule based on two votes in the Upper Roaring Fork Valley last week.