Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Tampa

Tampa considers bidding revamp after Hanna Avenue controversy

Mayor Jane Castor’s administration wants to rewrite bidding rules to prevent contracts like the $108 million City Center project.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has advanced a proposal to revamp bidding rules to effectively prevent a repeat of the controversial East Tampa City Center project.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor has advanced a proposal to revamp bidding rules to effectively prevent a repeat of the controversial East Tampa City Center project. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published May 19|Updated May 19

TAMPA — For months, Mayor Jane Castor and city officials have argued they did nothing wrong by not rebidding a city contract for a massive municipal complex after costs increased tenfold.

And Castor has defended not rebidding the project as her decision to move forward quickly on a much-needed workspace for city workers and a boost for economically struggling East Tampa.

Yet at Thursday’s City Council meeting, Castor’s administration advanced a proposal that would prevent another City Center project in which the original $10 million design-build contract ballooned to at least $108 million.

Future projects would have to come back to City Council as a new contract if their costs increase by more than twice the original estimate, said deputy city attorney Morris Massey.

The changes would place a “limitation on the ability to increase project scope,” said Massey.

Black community leaders and contractors raised forceful protests starting late last year after word spread that the Hanna Avenue project hadn’t been rebid despite massive increases in costs and in the number of city departments and divisions relocated.

Related: Bidding process on huge Tampa city project comes under scrutiny

In an effort to increase transparency, the city would widely advertise design-build contracts online and notify minority- and women-owned contracting firms by email, Massey said.

For several months, city officials declined to name who made the decision to go ahead with DPR, the construction management firm that won a 2015 contract to design and build city workspaces on an 11-acre property at 2515 E Hanna Ave. That contract did include far more modest plans for a relocation of a few city departments, including the Police Department. But those plans were shelved until 2020, when city officials decided to act quickly on the larger project.

Last month, Castor told the Times she had made the call.

Related: City Center project still has unanswered questions

The City Center project was not mentioned by Massey during his brief presentation. No council member asked him how the proposed changes related to the Hanna Avenue project, which would bring hundreds of city workers to East Tampa.

Asked if the changes represent an admission by the Castor administration that the Hanna Avenue process was flawed, her spokesperson Lauren Rozyla emailed a statement that didn’t answer the question.

“The Administration followed the state’s Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act (CCNA) process every step of the way. We listened to concerns raised by community members about the current law that governs procurement. This is a great example of the Administration working with Council to bring additional transparency to a complex process,” read Rozyla’s email.

In other news, council members unanimously approved an ordinance requiring landlords to give 60 days’ notice to tenants if they plan to raise the rent.

Stay on top of what’s happening in Tampa

Stay on top of what’s happening in Tampa

Subscribe to our free Tampa Times newsletter

You’ll get a roundup of the biggest Tampa community news twice a week.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

The ordinance notes that rents have increased by nearly a third in slightly more than a year in the Tampa Bay area and residents are facing a housing crunch.

The ordinance also increases the notification period to 30 days before a month-to-month lease can be terminated.

The new ordinance would apply to current leaseholders, city officials said.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge