Wednesday, March 24, 1999

County may pick different builders

Possibility angers named companies

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County commissioners are poised to buck their staff's recommendation and select Frank Messer and Sons Construction to build $100 million worth of riverfront garages.

        This morning, commissioners are expected to pick a construction manager for the garages, which will stretch between the new stadiums for the Bengals and Reds.

        After a selection committee interviewed the companies interested in the job, Hamilton County Administrator David Krings recommended Dugan & Meyers Construction Co. and Megen Construction, a local minority-owned firm.

        But on Monday, Commission President Tom Neyer Jr. and Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus asked the staff to take another look at Frank Messer and Sons, which has done lots of work for the county.

        “They're both quality firms,” Mr. Krings said. “I said from the start it was a close call.”

        The firm's fees have not been negotiated yet, but county officials estimate the garages could cost between $100 million to $110 million.

        Representatives of Dugan & Meyers and Megen issued a statement Tuesday saying the firms were “outraged” that the commissioners wanted Messer. Chief Executive Officer Fran Dugan called the commissioners' preference for Messer “blatantly unfair.”

        “This is our kind of job. We have more experience on parking structures — hands down. Nobody can dispute that,” he said.

        In fact, Dugan & Meyers is now building a parking garage for the county behind the Alms & Doepke Building.

        Messer Vice President Kathleen Daly said her firm has built parking garages, too, including a $45 million garage for Louisville's international airport. MBJ Consultants Inc. would be Messer's minority partner on the job.

        Mr. Bedinghaus said he has struggled with the decision because both Dugan & Meyers and Messer are good firms that have done good work for the county.

        But the county staff has worked with Messer a bit more, he said, and the county might need to rely on the construction manager more because the project manager for the job, Parsons Brinckerhoff Ohio, also is working for the city overseeing the massive Fort Washington Way overhaul.

        That firm's work for the city could create conflicts on occasion, and county officials might need to rely on the construction manager more than usual, Mr. Bedinghaus said.

        Mr. Dugan said he doesn't buy it. “All we know is the reasons they've advanced so far are more like excuses than reasons,” he said.


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