South Park has managed to take every bad economic development idea from Allentown and Bethlehem to create the City part of town.
Archive for category NIZ
What impact does the state budget impasse have on Allentown’s NIZ? A reader asked this question yesterday. As near as I can determine, the answer is none. So while a local daycare in Easton and other nonprofits are being denied state funds, the NIZ is …
Sarah Varjassy, a bartender at Bethlehem’s Bayou, shot the video you see above, of Allentown police, accompanied by either Mormons or the Men in Black, arresting a man who was singing outside Shula’s on Friday. On the bright side, he was not tased.He’s…
Before he was being paid by Miked Fleck to shill for Fed Ed, Daryl Nerl was already doing basically the same thing for The Morning Call. In a breathless 2005 account about Pawlowski’s obscene campaign finances, Nerl makes it seem like a good thing. Get…
Matt SorrentinoThe Norris, McLauglin law firm appears to have a starring role in the summer drama that increasingly appears to be a federal investigation into pay-to-play. Not only are partners identified on the FBI subpoena list, but they have be…
Earlier this month, I told you that three mechanics’ liens have been filed in connection with the $160 million PPL arena project. Alvin H Butz got dragged into it, I was surprised to learn this company, large as it is, was not required to post a performance bond, something that any municipal attorney should require. That omission, along with the lack of bidding or any transparency throughout the entire Neighborhood Improvement Zone, are major concerns. But Butz did not get to be where it is today by doing slipshod work. I was contacted by someone from that firm, who asked to present their said of the case. I am only too happy to do so.
Here are the facts:
We served as Construction Manager, not General Contractor. Our contract was with ANIZDA, but we worked under the direction of Hammes Corp., a Madison, Wisconsin firm that served as Development Manager.
Because a Construction Manager is hired before the drawings are complete, there is no way to “bid” the project, but we were selected, by Hammes, after the most rigorous process we’ve ever encountered. We competed with five of the largest CM’s in the world, and the process took months. We were eventually selected on the basis of the quality of the individuals on our proposed management team, our demonstration of understanding of the project, the methods we proposed to employ, and the competiveness of our fee. We were the only local firm capable of undertaking a project of that magnitude.
A performance bond was considered, but Hammes recommended waiving it because of our financial strength, our reliability and the cost savings its waiver would generate. A bond would have cost the project about $1.5 million.
The absence of a performance bond has no bearing on the payment of our subcontracts or on any exposure to the taxpayer. Our contract requires that we hold ANIZDA harmless from claims of subcontractors.
Every subcontract was competitively bid and open to all qualified firms.
The liens have been filed by subcontractors of subcontractors. They involve disputes between themselves, and we’ve withheld money to make sure that any offended party gets the money it’s due.
We have no opportunity to pocket money that should have gone to subcontractors. All the checks we’ve received are made jointly to us and each individual subcontractor and supplier. Furthermore, we would never hold back money that’s due. Our reputation has been built partly on our exceptional treatment of our vendors.
The project schedule proved to be exceptionally difficult. The underground piles turned out to be much more extensive and time-consuming than anticipated. We suffered with hundreds of scope changes, many of them requiring extra time. Just as we were about to put the roof on, we were hit with one of the worst winters in history. It snowed almost every other day. Meeting the completion date became increasingly challenging, and many thought meeting it was impossible. We decided to work overtime to meet the schedule, and the cost of doing so resulted in enormous costs that we could never have anticipated.
Despite the incredible challenges, we finished the project on time; and in this day of huge cost overruns on sports arenas, the final cost to ANIZDA was within 3% of the original estimate.
The spin game has begun. NIZ Czar J.B. Reilly and his minions are in full mode damage control at The Morning Call. Reilly dismisses a federal investigation as a “distraction” while his childhood chum, State Senator Pat Browne, harrumphs that …
Throughout the day today, I heard lots of rumors that I have no way to verify unless I get an invisibility cloak. So after a week of nonstop Pawlowski, Fleck and NIZ stories, I’m catching my breath. … Until Monday.
Allentown’s hockey arena, known as the PPL center, has cost taxpayers at least $160 million. But believe it or not, none of the construction work was publicly bid. So it should come as no great surprise that Alvin H Butz, whose top employees have poure…
(The sight of me on NBC-10 must have driven Pawlowski nutz.)Last Tuesday night, a Bethlehem lawyer hosted a fundraiser for Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski’s U.S. Senate campaign. His ever present campaign manager, Mike Fleck, could be heard complaining…