TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay's board gave the green light Tuesday to negotiate hiring an all-purpose planning consultant with an open price tag extending beyond 2017. Up to $400,000 will be earmarked to fund the position per year on a project-by-project basis.
If approved, that consultant could be called upon to help with policy-making, grant proposals, transportation, development and economic analysis, according to the proposal presented at the board's monthly meeting.
"What we're basically doing here is giving a blank check to the staff to spend money on this agenda item," Patrick Allman, port secretary and treasurer, said. "At the end of the day, if you don't trust your staff, you need to get new staff. And I trust my staff."
Ram Kancharla, vice president of planning and development, said the money is already budgeted for in the 2017 fiscal year capital program. Since the port is between master plan development cycles, the last of which cost around $1 million, Kancharla expects that the port will not spend the entire $400,000.
"Since the major planning activity is done, we don't anticipate (spending) the full amount," Kancharla said at the meeting.
Should the negotiations go well, the recipient will be repeat-port partner Bermello, Ajamil & Partners, an architecture, planning and engineering firm based in Miami. It was the only firm of nine who participated in the procurement process to submit a proposal.
The one-year contract would begin July 1, 2017, and can be extended twice for the same period.
B&A and Port Tampa Bay are well acquainted. Their relationship dates back to at least 1993 when the firm was awarded a contract to design the first Garrison Cruise Ferry Terminal.
They are currently working with the port on a splashy $1.7 billion project to develop 45 acres of port-owned land near downtown Tampa. That project calls for 9 million square feet of construction over a 15-year period, including two 75-story residential towers. The towers have faced skepticism, as some wonder whether there will be enough demand to fill them.
B&A has worked across the bay as well, receiving a $238,000 contract from the city of St. Petersburg in 2010 to evaluate each proposed pier remodel design's costs. Luis Ajamil, head of the firm, did not respond to calls for comment on the general planning services position.
Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] Follow @malenacarollo.