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St. Pete City Council to approve contractor for new police station

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete Police may be one step closer to getting a new headquarters. St. Pete City Council will vote on a recommendation from staff to enter into a contract with Ajax Building Corp. to oversee the construction project.

Ajax went up against two other building companies during a competitive bid process to secure the $70 million project. The city began the Request for Proposal process in February.

Biltmore Construction Co. and Skanska USA Builders were ranked second and third, respectively.

If Council approves the ranking, the city administration will be authorized to enter into negotiations to establish Ajax as the Construction Manager at Risk on the project. A later vote would authorize Ajax to begin pre-construction services with Harvard Jolly Architecture, the firm chosen to design the new police station.

Following pre-construction, Ajax would then issue a guaranteed maximum price proposal to the city. That ensures the project cannot exceed budget.

St. Pete Police have been asking for a new station for years. The department says the current station is outdated, it’s infrastructure is chronically failing and it’s too small to adequately house evidence or even question suspects.

The new facility will be constructed in just one phase as opposed to multiple phases as the city had originally thought would be necessary. It will be located across the street from the existing station on First Avenue North.

The 191,000-square-foot facility will be paid for with $50 million of the city’s money long-earmarked for a new facility and another $20 million allocated to the project through Penny for Pinellas funds.

The facility is expected to be nearly hurricane proof with features that can withstand up to a category four hurricane.

Construction on the new facility won’t begin until City Council approves the guaranteed maximum price and issues a notice to proceed. It’s not yet clear exactly when that will be.

Ajax Building Corp. is an Oldsmar-based company with more than 56 years of experience in building projects under a Guaranteed Maximum Price. The company has completed more than 300 construction management project, including 20 public safety facilities.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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