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Tampa Housing Authority fires contractor on $25.6M project

The general contractor has been fired on the latest development project in Encore, the $450 million downtown Tampa urban renewal district. This aerial photograph of the district was taken in April. Tampa Housing Authority photo
The general contractor has been fired on the latest development project in Encore, the $450 million downtown Tampa urban renewal district. This aerial photograph of the district was taken in April. Tampa Housing Authority photo
Published Jun. 20, 2016

TAMPA — The Tampa Housing Authority has fired the general contractor that is already three-quarters of the way though building a $25.6 million apartment block on the edge of downtown Tampa.

The authority on Friday terminated its contract with the Siltek Group, a construction firm based in Plantation that is managing construction of The Tempo at Encore — a 203-unit, seven-story building west of Nebraska Avenue.

The decision to fire Siltek is likely to mean a delay in completing Tempo, which is intended to provide more affordable housing in Tampa's downtown by the fall. More than 9,000 families have applied for 122 units that will be subsidized there. The other units will be rented at market rate.

The decision was necessary because of poor project management and mistakes, said Leroy Moore, chief operating officer of the housing authority. The problems have delayed the development and created an adversarial relationship with other companies working on the project.

"We getting more and more subcontractors claiming they're not getting paid," Moore said.

Siltek was also submitting what Moore described as "ridiculous" change orders, including one for $300,000 to cover the cost of solar panels that were part of the guaranteed maximum price contract that Siltek signed, he said.

The authority is planing legal action against the firm.

Siltek officials declined to comment on the authority's decision.

"We are exploring all legal remedies to make sure that the truth is exposed in this case," said Siltek President Ana Silveira-Sierra.

Siltek specializes in low- and mid-rise residential projects and has a portfolio that includes residential towers in Miami and Coral Gables and commercial developments in Florida and Texas.

Siltek also built The Reed, a seven-story senior living center that is part of the Encore district — a $450 million urban renewal project that is replacing Central Park Village. The Reed opened in October.

Records suggest a fractured relationship between firms working on the Tempo project.

In March, Siltek sued Bessolo Design Group, the St. Petersburg architect that designed Tempo, and KEM Engineers, which did Tempo's structural design.

The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of both firms and states that architectural design documents for the building contained errors and omitted needed information, making the plans impossible to build without revisions.

Siltek is seeking $1 million in damages.

The housing authority plans to ask DPR Construction, a general contractor that has worked on the Encore project, to conduct an on-site assessment of the project, which is estimated to take 45–60 days.

Depending on the outcome of the report, DPR is likely to win the contract to complete the building, Moore said.

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The housing authority has parted company with a development firm before.

Last year, it quietly terminated a contract with St. Louis firm McCormack Baron Salazar, the lead consultant for its signature West River development, and hired another firm to radically overhaul the design.

McCormack Baron Salazar was hired in 2012 on a $350,000 contract to do initial planning for the $300 million commercial and residential development, viewed by city of Tampa leaders as the lynchpin for revitalization of the area west of the Hillsborough River.

But after unveiling the plan in draft form last year, housing authority officials decided the firm's ideas for the 120-acre site were too suburban and not suited for the urban boom in Tampa's downtown.

Instead, the authority agreed to pay an additional $280,000 for Miami firm Lambert Advisory to redo much of the master plan.

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times

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