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CONSTRUCTION ESTIMATING NEWS (update by every month)

Presidents Plaza developers to choose contractor this week


The developers of the proposed 15-story Presidents Plaza said Wednesday that they expect to select the lead contractor for the multi-million dollar downtown project this week.

“It’s a huge step. “It is really happening,” said Hani Shafai, president of Dream Design International and partner in Presidents Plaza LLC.

Shafai said a committee that includes Rapid City’s public works director will conduct interviews with representatives of three groups that have been selected as finalists for a project that would fill the north half of the block bounded by St. Joseph, Kansas City, Fifth and Sixth streets.

As now proposed, Presidents Plaza will include a mix of retail, office and residential space, along with a 100-room hotel, a conference center, restaurant and at least 500 public and leased parking spaces. It is expected to cost between $41 million and $49 million
Shafai said once the lead contractor is hired, the goal is get the parking ramp under contract for construction by May 4.

The developers face a May 7 deadline to get all portions of the project being financed by a tax- increment district under contract. The TIF is contributing up to $11.7 million for the parking structure, environmental remediation and power line burial.

“We’ve worked at a pretty feverish pitch to get where we’re at,” said Pat Hall of Premier Properties, Shafai’s partner in the project.

U.S. Bank provided a letter of intent in January for the project’s private financing, which could include a combination of tax- increment financing, a traditional real estate loan and New Market Tax Credits. The city is contributing $2.8 million in Vision Fund money to the project in exchange for the public parking.

The contractor chosen this week will serve as the project’s construction manager at risk, working collaboratively with the owners and architect and overseeing the construction of the development, Shafai said.

That includes assisting with estimating and construction scheduling, bidding out each portion of the project and taking prime responsibility for the work of subcontractors, he said.

“You keep things within budget and you keep things better quality,” Shafai said.

The construction manager approach is one of three ways allowed under state law to do public projects, Shafai said. It has also been successfully used on public projects in Sioux Falls and Pierre.

Shafai said he is on the committee that is vetting the applicants along with the city Public Works Director Terry Wolterstorff, a representative of the architect and a citizen at large.
Council President Dave Davis, a supporter of the project, said the construction manager approach appears to be the best for everyone involved in the public-private partnership.

“This is probably the best way for us to get the best project done at the best price,” Davis said. “I think we’re moving forward in the right way. We’re moving forward. That’s a great thing.”

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