By Jane Smith

   Artists, videographers and other creative types can look forward to the June opening of the Arts Warehouse, after Hatcher Construction & Development won the bid to convert the vacant building into an arts incubator.

   The Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency paid $1.1 million in 2010 for the 15,000-square-foot warehouse in Pineapple Grove. The CRA had planned turn it a space into a building where artists and businesses can work side by side.

   Hatcher, of Delray Beach, was one of three contractors who responded to the CRA’s request for proposals earlier this year.

   Hatcher with partner D. Stephenson Construction Inc., of Delray Beach, bid $2.2 million. West Construction of Lake Worth bid $2.1 million. Emerald Construction Corp., of Dania Beach, bid $2.5 million.

   CRA Assistant Director Thuy Shutt said all three bids had irregularities. Hatcher’s insurer didn’t like the language required in the performance bond, but the company’s owner, William Hatcher, said the bond would be provided.

   Hatcher, which does not have experience with construction projects over $2 million, as the CRA requires, entered into a consulting agreement with D. Stephenson to use its list of projects. “I do feel that putting that language in there puts a limit on the opportunities for contractors to step up,” he told the CRA board on July 12.

   He also said, “West is a fine contractor. I feel we both are qualified.”

   Matthew West, vice president of West Construction, said his firm’s bid was $135,000 lower and should be picked. He gave the CRA his list of the subcontractors and value of work performed, saying his firm would do 46 percent of the project itself.

   Both West and Emerald were deemed nonresponsive for not providing the subcontractors’ list.

   Hatcher’s bid had two faults, West said. The company put qualifications on the bond and it hasn’t done any projects over $2 million. “Those two issues are larger than our failure to submit the list of the subs and the amount of the work we would do ourselves,” he said.

   Even so, the CRA board members voted 5-2 in favor of Hatcher’s firm, with Cathy Balestriere and Paul Zacks voting no.

   Construction will start Oct. 1, Shutt said.

   The CRA’s request for bids to manage the Arts Warehouse received only one response, Shutt said. The company, Institute for Civic Achievement Inc. run by Tom Fleming, did not have enough of a track record to be judged, she said.

   The CRA board decided to allow staff more time to talk with similar arts organizations about how they draft such proposals and report back in 90 days.

   In other CRA news, the City Commission selected Reggie Cox to continue as chairman of its CRA board and Joseph Bernadel as the agency vice chairman for another year.


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