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OK. Maybe I am confused here (my wife would say that happens often). Is the City not committed to spending all of the $25 Million ?? So if the building comes in cheaper, the rest just goes to the "infrastructure", doesn't it ???
As I understand it, the City is committed to spend any remaining money on infrastructure. The last I heard Fritzel hasn't even given a price for the infrastructure work so you can bet a good chunk of the remainder will be spent on it. This is complete negligence on the part of the City Commission. They used such preliminary estimates to establish the project budget that they weren't even close. Then you agree to spend up to $25 M based on these preliminary estimates?
The City Managers head should roll over this one. The commissioners need to also be held accountable. I love my alma mater but with the endowment they have there is no reason the City tax payers should be picking up the entire price tag for the infrastructure costs at this facility. There should've been a cost sharing formula established based on percentage of actual costs not a guarantee to spend up to $25 million regardless of where it went.
I fully believe there have been laws broken regarding the procurement of services by a municipality among others. I believe this enough that it may be worth hiring an attorney to further review this entire smelly mess.
It is my understanding that Fritzel is guaranteed the $25 Million...
Wow, this keeps getting more and more crooked. Fritzels, you should be ashamed of yourselves. This whole thing is backwards. I know this stuff happens all the time with government and politicians, but I don't think our politicians are nearly as good at covering it up as the guys on capital hill. Just pathetic.
So, they're brothers, right? They always say take the SECOND lowest bid because otherwise you are guaranteed shoddy workmanship.
Is this the same entity that messed up the Varsity house project? If so, why would the city possibly consider hiring them again?
They didn't mess it up. They deliberately tore the structure down.
I was surprised that the storage area where they kept the materials didn't have an "accident".
Since there were no consequences, they let every developer in the city know that it is completely fine to tear down a historic structure, then thumb your nose at the city.
Heck, you might even get a $25M project later on.
FYI...The Varsity House was not a historic structure...
The structure, historic or not - and I don't think it is, was a complete , maintenance-deferred disaster by the time Fritzel got involved with it. Not much to be done except replicate the original as true as possible. All the while improving the heck out of it, if you ask me.
And yes, I know you didn't ask me, so feel free to change that to IMO if you like.
You betcha. I'm excited for the rec center, but it better have some fine bells & whistles. I'd be pro both indoor & outdoor pools. This thing needs tricked out with as much community minded recreational bling as we can get for this price tag.
I'd like to see a couple big indoor outdoor pools, too. Maybe even a huge wave pool so we can do some surfing and bodyboarding. Something like that would make it a true draw for people in surrounding communities like Topeka, Baldwin, etc. to come here and spend some money.
"Should the city add some components to the rec center? Racquetball courts, tennis courts, outdoor swimming pool?"
This center as currently designed will concentrate more rec facilities in one spot than all other current rec centers combined, on the far west edge of town.
So if there are savings, additional facilities should be built at more central locations-- perhaps more racquetball courts at Holcomb, where the only public court currently is, tennis courts near the city property by Free State. Does the city really need another outdoor pool at this point?
I am glad Gene won the bid and I am glad we are getting a much better deal.
Sometimes the anti-developer sentiments expressed in this community seem immature and uninformed.
Developers have great talent and the courage at times to take great risks and what we need is more business talent in this city so we can get out of the bottom where we currently reside.
I just hope they build the greatest athletic center in the area so that we can brag about it like we do our basketball. It is what makes Lawrence a place people talk about across the country.
You have got to be kidding me??? If not, please educate yourself about these "wonderful" developers in the Lawrence area.
Know anything about Fritzel bailing on taxes owed for a development he did in Junction City? Only owes $3.42 million in back taxes and fees. He shouldn't be allowed to do any more developing until he can pay off his past tax burden. How are you going to feel when he does something like that in Lawrence and we all get stuck with the bill?
He's well known for doing what he wants, then begging the city for foregiveness, which he always gets because our local govt sucks.
These developers are taking risks with OUR money. He isn't putting up his own money. He's getting paid well to build this rec center, then will profit from it by leasing it out. If he'd had his way and the public outcry didn't make the city get bids, we would have spent millions more on this rec center and he would have pocketed it.
Courage and risk? Taking tax payers money to develop your property doesn't sound very courageous or risky to me.
seriously jayhawklawrence? Is your last name Fritzel?
Here Here! All the local doormats, unhappy and discontent experts in development projects swarm to this Rag to voice their distrust, disbelief and disdain for those who take Risk and who employ people and invest in projects locally. How dare these bids come in so ridiculously low! Perhaps the only downside of this entire project is this: who at City Hall is in charge of estimating project costs? He or she needs to be relieved of duty and the City should contract this responsibility to those who know what in the Hell they're doing!
City staff may have offered some input to the estimate but the primary responsibility falls on the design team (architects and engineers). If anyone should be held accountable when that bid number proves to be wrong, which I believe it will, it should be them.
Check on these guys and if they hire local. They usually don't. They bring in cheap labor from elsewhere instead of putting local people to work. They take risks with our money. The problem at city hall is that their buddies with these developers. That's why they didn't want to bid this out and at first just offered it to Fritzel for $25 M. You need to get a clue.
Remember, you pay for what you get.
No bid for infrastructure, lowest bid for rec center = it will all even out in the end, but thank you other contractors for submitting your bids, snicker.
Amen to that MacHeath!
Gene is a swell guy, his son is the one giving the Fritzel name a black eye
Methinks the "fix" is in. "Now, guys let's make sure our bids are really below projected so we can get this boondoggle going. We'll make our profits after the contract(s) are signed."
"The city has an architectural estimate that projects the value of the improvements are closer to $33 million. A majority of city commissioners have said Fritzel’s offer — which they have viewed as a donation to the city — makes the project unique."
This is no longer a donation. We could have put this on city land and saved money.
I have read up on it. Maybe you need to.
" Fritzel did what the agreement was with EVERY development over there."
EXCEPT pay the taxes he/they owe on the property. But I guess I missed that class in my education.
I have been an architect for nearly 19 years now. I can tell you a couple things...
Not once have I given an owner an estimate with a low-to-high range of $2.3 million. That is ridiculous particularly on a publicly-owned/financed building, which constitutes 99% of the projects I've worked on in my career. Most owners won't accept ranges to begin with. Maybe private owners will but I find it unusual for public owners.
I've designed a couple recreation centers similar to this one for universities that were smaller than this one. One had three courts, the other had four. Both had elevated tracks, weight rooms, cardio/aerobics spaces, etc. just like this one. Neither had an indoor turf space. Neither of them could have been built for $10.5 million. Both were closer to $18 million. I seriously doubt this one will end up coming in at that bid number, but of course I could be proven wrong.
The track is not elevated, it's sprayed on rubber over concrete.
The last plans I saw showed it in the 2nd level above the courts below, which is what I meant by elevated. Maybe that part of the design changed but I was going from what I recall. The flooring surface for indoor tracks is typically a poured rubber surfacing, regardless of them being on a slab-on-grade or elevated.
And, yes, I do realize all of the bids came in well below the architect's estimated range. I have worked with 5 of the 9 companies that bid although Fritzel is not one I have worked with. Knowing how a couple of those 5 operate, my suspicion is that the final price tag for this will go up through change orders and reach nearer to those at the upper end of the bids.
The public IS dumb. When only 12% of the public vote and you only need 4,000 votes to win (in a community with 100,000 residents) you get what you vote for.
There is some very fishy here. "Architects hired by city officials had estimated the building would cost somewhere between $18.4 million and $20.7 million to build."
First, who are these architects? Do they have a business or personal relationship with the Fritzel family.
Second, how in the hell did these architects come up with an estimate that was nearly double the low bid. This is not rocket science. There are industry standards for estimating costs based on the prevailing rate for labor, materials, etc in the area. Sure, I can understand a bid coming in plus or minus ten or fifteen, or perhaps even twenty percent compared with the estimate. But here, the low bid is approximately HALF of the high estimate.
There is something very very wrong here, and it stinks to high heaven.
"Schumm said he recognizes that city now may be paying for a larger percentage of the infrastructure than originally envisioned, but he said he is fine with that — particularly since the city will be paying less than the $25 million it had budgeted."
How in the world can anyone be "fine with that." The amount the city budgeted is irrelevant, , and a terrible measure of comparison, especially in light of the fact that the amount budgeted, for the building, anyway, was nearly double the actual costs. The budget amount was obviously a mistake. How can you use a MISTAKE as a measure for comparison?
All this talk about the city obtaining a structure worth $32 mil for only $25 mil is the height of absurdity. The value of the structure is not what some pencil pusher opines on paper, but instead, what it actually costs to build. Obviously, it is worth a lot less than $32 mil. Lets start with the 10 mil bid for the structure, and add the City's FAIR SHARE share of infrastructure costs. If the total infrastruture cost is around 8 mil, then the city's fair share should be something less than 8 million. So the total value is 10 mil for the structure, something less than 8 million for the city's share of the infrastructure, the cost of land, and other incidentals. That is a lot less than 25 million.
And if the city (AND THAT, FOLKS, MEANS WE, THE TAXPAYERS) is on the line for $25 mil, then the city is taking a hosing.
I am amazed the allegedly intelligent people such as Schumm, Coreless, Dever, can rationalize this debacle and keep a straight face.
Professional architects do not routinely overestimate the costs of a structure by nearly 100 percent. Either gross incompetence is involved, or the estimates were intentionally falsified pursuant to some type of conspiracy to line a few pockets. Either way, it doesn't look good. Take your pick. Incompetence or dishonesty. Please, someone prove me wrong. This kind of nonsense isn't supposed to happen in Lawrence, Kansas, at least not on this scale. We are talking millions of dollars folks.
Keep digging, Mr. Lawhorn. I smell something very sinister lurking.
Another thought. Perhaps Gene Fritzel intentionally bid lower than market, because the Fritzel family will make it up on the infrastructure, i.e., the less the City spends on the building, the more they will end up paying for the infrastructure.
“When we pay more (for the infrastructure), that helps support KU’s mission out there, and that is a community mission,” Schumm said. “They do get a better deal, but that is fine with me."
Hey Bobby Schumm, It is not as innocuous as helping out dear old KU. Remember, KU will not be the owner of their building. they will be leasing it from Fritzel, and Fritzel has the right to lease the premises and hold events there, all at a profit. Any money paid by the city for infrastructure in excess of its "fair share" benefits the Fritzel family, and not KU. Yes, all infrastructure is are roads, pipes, utility lines, etc. But they add up to millions of dollars.
The Fritzel family is making a killing at the taxpayers expense.
Also, once the infrastructure is built, all surrounding land will increase dramatically in value. I bet anyone a dime to a dollar that the Fritzel family and their buddies own a lot of the surrounding land.
This would have never happened in Lawrence thirty years ago. there were too many experienced activists who would have exposed the dirty dealings, and organized against it.
Unfortunately, in the current "me" culture its every person for themselves, and the developer are exploiting the indifference and apathy of the people for millions and millions of dollars.
Free State was not thirty years ago. The incidents you speak of are child's play compared to what is happening right now.
" But he [Amyx] said he is pleased that the city will be paying less than the originally estimated $25 million"
Hey Mike, please explain why we should all be happy because we are paying less than the estimate. The high estimate for the structure was nearly double the low bid amount. That's ten million dollars. Estimates in the multi-million dollar construction industry are not off by 100%. It was a mistake, and a gross one at that, and therefore it doesn't mean anything.
The real question should this: What is the city's "fair share" of the infrastructure cost. if we are paying more than the cost of the structure plus the fair share of infrastructure, we are paying too much. At this point, the faulty estimate means nothing. throw it away. it is garbage.
Does any of this money pay for the stuff that goes in he rec center? Like equipment, furniture, etc. who is paying for all that stuff. Does the parks and rec depr have that cash laying around?
I thought I heard that they were hoping for donations.
Anyone know " the truth"?
I don't know in this case, but in my experience, equipment and furnishings that aren't 'built-in' aren't part of the construction estimate. Equipment such as basketball goals, volleyball net systems (floor or overhead), casework/cabinetry, lockers, locker room benches, etc. that are attached to the building in some manner are. Items such as weight room equipment or office furnishings generally are not. However, that is not always the case depending in the contract language between the owner-architect and owner-contractor.
Generally too, those types of loose equipment such as furniture and weight room equipment are not included in the construction estimate because the higher the cost of that estimate or construction, the higher the fee is for the architect. The fee percentage goes down as the price increases but the fee does go up nonetheless. Also, most large owners such as cities, states, large school districts, etc. have contracts to purchase such items directly without bids, keeping their costs down.
Again though, it depends on the contract language.
Infrastructure SHOULD NOT make the $25 million. So some city people and one commissioner were thinking.
This whole deal is stinky. A little too loose.
Has the $50,000 fine been paid? over the site plan violation near campus?
Lower or not does Fritzel give we taxpayers the best bang for our tax bucks? The best bang for the tax dollar should be the ultimate decision maker.
Why doesn't City Hall stop all construction UNTIL taxpayers have $$$$$$$ numbers? Who has the authority to move a project forward without can we say " all the ducks in row"? Quite irresponsible I'd say. Reckless.
How in the world could CITY HALL approve any type of construction activity without $$$$$$
numbers? It's time to pull the plug until taxpayers see ethical behavior.
If what we're reading is absolutely true we got load of nonsense on our hands. I say pull the plug today until taxpayers have numbers across the board.
Do developers have any respect for city government officials? I say no. Perhaps city government officials cannot command respect? Why not?
Did the other bids include infrastructure expenses? What do we know?
I am just tired of hearing what a great deal this is for KU & Lawrence. KU has enough land west of campus to build a new track. It did not have to be across town. My concern is sharing the parking lots w/KU. Citizens will want to use the rec center for exercise, as they should be able to as our tax money is paying for this, and will not have a place to park. Has anything been written in to state that Fritzel cannot charge us taxpayers to park when he has his 'private functions' or when KU has an event? Parking should be free, period. It is sad to think that Schumm and others believe that Fritzel will be honest about this project, since he hasn't been with so many others connected with the city. A recreation center for the city of Lawrence has turned out to be such a project that I fear the local youth & seniors as well as other citizens will not get the benefit we all had hoped for. I hope the JW will continue to investigate and keep the public informed on this issue. You cannot depend on the city commission to keep us informed.
"City officials now believe it is likely the city will pay less than the $25 million maximum it was prepared to pay for the recreation center and associated infrastructure, such as parking lots and water and sewer utilities."
I guess this means that had they not got bids they would be prepared to pay more than they should pay. Say 8 to 10 million more.
I wonder what else they would have been surprised about if the people were allowed to vote instead of the city commissioners acting unilaterally and ramming this shady deal through.
The prevalence of low bids combined with change orders among contractors is disturbing.
People make decisions to hire based on bids, and the jobs should be completed for the amounts bid, except in very narrow circumstances, in which it was impossible for the contractor to accurate bid the project.
We had somebody give us an estimate to replace the galvanized pipes in our crawl space. It was almost 3 times as high as another bid, and their contract included the ability to create numerous change orders, with no cap on those. Needless to say, we didn't hire them. But, they're a well known company - somebody must be employing them.
They should do whatever they need to do to bid accurately, and then they should do the job for that amount. If they've made mistakes in the bid, that's their problem, and maybe having to eat the difference would be an incentive to bid future projects more accurately.
Some projects just can't be bid, unless that bid is so high that it covers all potential surprises along the way. This is especially true of work on older structures, and very especially with clients who want the ability to change their minds a lot along the way.
But with new construction, bids should be firm, and only changed when the design and/or materials are changed mid-project, especially if that entails significant undoing and then redoing.
One problem subcontractors have is a general contractor who isn't doing their job well, which causes additional labor and material costs for the subcontractor, and too many GC's tend to be narcissistic, and rarely want to cover additional costs that they create.
If clients add things, then of course they should pay more.
Otherwise, I'd say they shouldn't, if it's possible for the contractors to look at what they're doing - in our case, it would have been possible for him to go underneath the house and look before making his bid, but he didn't.
Every project is different. It's quite possible that yours could have been any easy bid. It's also possible that the company with the high bid was booked up solid, and didn't want the job unless it was a sure moneymaker. He could (and did) make that bid without doing much homework at all.
But the low bid doesn't always work in the customer's favor, either, if the bid is so low that the company can't complete the work for that kind of money, and they grind to a halt at some midway point.
Well, if he was booked solid, then he shouldn't have come and bid the job - to do that would be a waste of our time and energy.
I agree that the lowest bid isn't always the best, but that's part of the problem, that contractors routinely don't bid accurately, and change stuff midway through, or threaten to walk off the job. It's a nightmare for homeowners.
Also, the variation is absurd - we have a spread of 3-4/1 on the bids.
This is yet another example of the short comings of public sector processes with spending taxpayer money. The errors being made with building the library, the rec center, and school district improvements in announcing how much they have to spend is simply irresponsible.
Hmm, maybe they're saving costs by not using rebar.
This was my concern when the estimated price was made public. I did some research early in the process and found out that similar sized rec centers in the region (Wichita) were being built in the $10M range. I thought the estimate was too high then, and now we see in fact it was. So now the taxpayers are going to own a $10M dollar asset and be on the hook for up to $15M in infrastructure costs on a project that is not going to directly generate any tax revenue.
I'm very curious where we'd be today had there not been a ground swell of opposition to the original no bid plan.
PLEASE run for City Commission again in two years!
"Professional architects do not routinely overestimate the costs of a structure by nearly 100 percent. Either gross incompetence is involved, or the estimates were intentionally falsified pursuant to some type of conspiracy to line a few pockets. "
Months ago Crossland Construction provided the city a cost estimate of $22 million, yesterday their bid was $10,779,000. It's obvious that Crossland and Fritzel had inside information about this project that the other bidders did not have access too. The architects (Gould Evans and Paul Werner) worked directly for Fritzel designing this building per his instructions. Gould Evans and the city asked Crossland Construction to prepare a cost estimate for this project months ago. Both of these builders had input on the plans and specifications prior to the actual bidding giving them an unfair advantage over the competition.
How could the city allow Fritzel and Crossland to submit bids.
Is the $22M Crossland bid available for public viewing somewhere? Was this on a CC agenda?
City website: page 15 of this document, actually $24 million.
Thanks. Have you compared the first one to the most recent one?
Good point. thanks for the info.
“When we pay more (for the infrastructure), that helps support KU’s mission out there, and that is a community mission,” Schumm said. “They do get a better deal, but that is fine with me.”
I think this quote pretty much sums it up. Not what I want to see from someone who is supposed to be advocating on behalf of the taxpayers.
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Pull the plug on all construction activity UNTIL all of the numbers are in and taxpayers KNOW how their tax dollars are being spent.
How can local government operate in such a loose manner?
Put all local projects up for bids in the future hopefully receiving a minimum of 10 bids per
project. That's right cut off the Free Lunch to locals!!!
We can't just bypass representative democracy whenever we feel like it. You couldn't get your council elected in an incredibly blue city and now you want to bypass the voters of Lawrence? I've agreed with your stance on this all along but we can't bypass our system based on our opinions. We need to let the voters of Lawrence feel the pain of their decision for anything to ever change.
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