Duluth officials hope to award contract on City Hall building

DULUTH - Now that the field of bidders has been narrowed to three, Duluth officials hope to award the design-build contract for the new City Hall at a special meeting tentatively set for Oct. 4.

The three design-build teams made a presentation to Duluth officials and administrators Wednesday. Mathias Corporation of Duluth, Potts/Precision Planning and Heery International Inc. each spent an hour making their case to the council. Heery International Inc. is currently building the new Duluth Public Safety Center and Potts/Precision Planning is nearing the end of the construction of the new Snellville City Hall.

City officials decided to let Marcus Vess of Collins Project Management, the company hired to oversee the building of the new City Hall, review the proposals and present the council with a comparison grid before making a final choice.

"We're not in a hurry. This is a huge decision," Mayor Shirley Fanning-Lasseter said. "We need to do this right."

Last year, officials decided the city had outgrown its current City Hall and voted to relocate to the other side of the Town Green. In July this year the city purchased about 1 acre on Main Street from the Duluth Masonic Lodge for the construction of a new City Hall. But the 1 acre is likely to present some design challenges for whichever design-build team gets the contract, not only because of its size limitations but also because of its uneven topography. However, none of the companies bidding for the contract felt any of the challenges were insurmountable.

City officials want the new City Hall to reflect the identity of Duluth with a historic flavor and a high level of detail. They also hope to be able to get a parking deck for the city in the deal.

"We are going to get a beautiful parking deck somewhere in Duluth," Lasseter said.

All three design-build teams said it was possible that the uneven topography of the City Hall site could work well for a parking deck.

"We need parking for all the downtown area, for our businesses and our new theater," Lasseter said. "We need to provide community parking if we want people in the downtown area and a parking deck would be a way to do it."

The new City Hall will cost about $8 million and is expected to be ready for occupation in 2007.