By Brian Biggane

After years of discussions and delays, the South Palm Beach Town Council at its October meeting unanimously authorized Town Manager Jamie Titcomb to send out requests for bids for the construction of the new Town Hall.

The current Town Hall was built in 1976 as a public safety building and has evolved as a hodgepodge of additions, renovations and repairs that no longer satisfies the town’s needs. Council members decided early on that renovations to the existing building wouldn’t be cost effective and that new construction was the better way to go.

At one point, an architect’s proposal to erect a five-story structure was dismissed as too extravagant and too costly.

At last month’s meeting, Town Attorney Glen Torcivia made a lengthy presentation laying out options and the council agreed to solicit two bids, one for designing and building the project and the other for hiring a representative to oversee the construction from start to finish.

“Let’s get going,” Mayor Bonnie Fischer said. “It’s going to be an exciting project, and now I feel confident there’s impetus going forward.”

Titcomb said he anticipated sending out the request by mid-October and giving applicants for both 30 days to respond, meaning the council will not be taking any action at the November meeting.

He said a special meeting could be called to give the interested parties — state statutes require at least three bids to go forward — an opportunity to make presentations.

The town had determined it would prefer the builder use structural insulated panels (SIPs), but a previous solicitation resulted in only one bid. Titcomb said this solicitation will be broadcast nationally, including through SIPA, the national organization for SIPs construction.

Fischer said she hoped the new building would also be a community center with a coffee shop that would attract people who walk every day along the walkway.

Torcivia’s presentation offered two options going forward: design bid build or design build. The council opted for the latter, along with an owner’s rep, and Titcomb explained the difference.

“In design build you’re going after companies that are all under one umbrella, the whole thing from design to construction,” Titcomb said. “Usually, the concern there is what happens if there’s a conflict between something that goes wrong.

“That’s where the idea of having an owner’s rep comes into play, where you need someone with credentials to anticipate and troubleshoot, but in the capacity of the town itself.

So, you’re hiring somebody to look out for the owner’s best interest.”

He said the owner’s rep will typically be “architects or engineers who have experience in the field. It’s good to have a dedicated representative because this is going to be a full-time project.”

 

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