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Burnhardt Group LLC moves onto short list to build Hernando County judicial center

BROOKSVILLE — A local group with ties to prominent business leaders in Hernando County did not make the cut last week as a committee evaluated proposals to build a new judicial center and narrowed the field to three.

Wednesday, however, the group made the short list.

The reason?

A math error, according to a county official who tabulated the committee's votes.

After Friday's vote, the top three companies were Inland Public Properties Development Inc. of Austin, Texas; CNL Commercial Real Estate of Orlando; and Ryan Companies US Inc. of Tampa.

But after county purchasing director Jim Gantt entered the scoring details from the seven members of the review team — who rated each of the 10 firms using five criteria — into a spreadsheet Wednesday, the lineup changed significantly.

Gone were CNL and Ryan Companies.

In, at No. 2, was the Brooksville-based Burnhardt Group LLC.

Inland Public Properties retained the top slot, while the Beck Team of Tampa was third.

Gantt said he had moved two numbers over incorrectly and plugged in a "4" at one point when it should have been "42."

"I messed up,'' he said.

None of the firms that submitted bids have been told who made the short list, Gantt said. If representatives of the firms had been at Friday's scoring and heard the results, they might have made assumptions about their company making the next round, he said. But Gantt said he made it clear Friday that the results were tentative.

Wednesday, he informed the review team members and the firms of the final tally.

Gantt said review team members are unlikely to "have any heartburn'' over the change in the rankings. The team includes County Commission Chairman David Russell, Circuit Judge Daniel Merritt and deputy county administrator Larry Jennings, among others.

Ten companies sent qualified plans in response to the county's request for proposals late last year. County officials wanted to hear how various firms would propose a public/private partnership to build the center.

Burnhardt Group has local resident Paul Douglas as its corporate representative. The proposal lists as its business partners Coastal Engineering, Skanska USA as its builder, Heery Design as its designer and Cortez Community Bank as its money manager.

The Burnhardt proposal would place the new judicial center on the block north of the existing government center, which is bordered by N Magnolia and N Brooksville avenues.

Property appraiser records show the property is owned by SunTrust Bank, attorney Joe Mason and Manuel LLC, a firm related to the Manuel family, which also owns Coastal Engineering.

The proposal also details that parking would be provided for the new center by building a parking deck on the site of the records storage facility located adjacent to the existing government center parking lot.

The Inland Public Property Development plan, which also had affiliated firms as part of its proposal, did not specify a location for the judicial center but did include a map of Brooksville with five large parcels marked as some possible sites.

The firm proposes using its own money to develop the project and then lease it to the county. Inland also proposes buying and renovating the existing government center once the courtrooms and other judicial spaces move and leasing that building back to the county.

By using its own funding, Inland insulates the county "from the current dislocation and unrest in capital markets,'' the proposal states.

The Beck Group's proposal also listed its affiliated construction, design and financing companies and estimated the cost of the project at $45 million. The firm did not select a site but submitted a map showing several properties around the city that might work for the project.

Gantt said he would prepare all the information about the proposals to go to the county's budget and finance committee for discussion and ultimately to the County Commission.

"The board will have to make a decision whether to go forth further with it,'' Gantt said. "They will either have to ask the firms to start submitting the complex proposals or cancel to take it back up again at a later date.''

County officials have talked about setting aside $19 million for the project. They also made the judicial center with a $50 million price tag one of the priority economic development projects if federal stimulus dollars are available.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Burnhardt Group LLC moves onto short list to build Hernando County judicial center 03/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 7:35pm]
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