Winter Garden leaders award contract for parking garage
| 7:18 p.m. June 2, 2015
West Orange Times & Observer
WINTER GARDEN — City commissioners awarded the contract to design and build Winter Garden’s downtown parking garage to Finfrock, an Apopka company.
The review committee judged bids by three main criteria: look of the garage and fit with neighboring structures, function and price. Based on those criteria, four of the five committee members made Finfrock their first choice. City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said Finfrock’s design best fit the character of downtown.
“Our No. 1 concern was that this garage ... fit into the city of Winter Garden,” he said.
Finfrock’s estimated cost for the project was almost $1 million more than the lowest bidder. City staff will work with Finfrock over the next four weeks to finalize the design and reduce project costs. Bollhoefer expects adjustments for actual costs and other design changes will bring the cost for the garage to the $7 million to $7.5 million range — more comparable to bids from The Artec Group and R.R. Simmons.
The final plans and cost estimates will come back before the commission for approval at the June 25 meeting.
Luis Sanchez, Artec Group CEO, came from Sarasota to speak. He said he was “disturbed,” because he had no time to protest the decision. Sanchez said his company was the lowest-cost bidder and asked, “How can it be fair and open if (another company) can come in and negotiate?”
However, Bollhoefer said he was confident the city followed the law during the bidding process. No one filed any protests within the five-day window after the results were announced.
“When I looked at Finfrock’s design ... you don’t know it’s a parking garage,” Commissioner Kent Makin said. “I liked that it looked like a building on a brick street.”
The commission voted unanimously for Finfrock.
Dan Helmick, Winter Garden resident and Finfrock’s vice president of project development, said his company is ready to get to work.
“We’re very proud that our design fits with the character of downtown Winter Garden,” he said. “We’re very excited to be a part of this important project.”
During the Jan. 22 meeting, the commission approved the city’s purchase of three digital projectors for $100,000 to support the Garden Theatre’s production of “Peter Pan.” Last week, the commission formally approved the agreement, which makes Winter Garden the owner of all three projectors. One will remain in the theater, and the other two will be available for other city functions, including other needs the theatre may have.
Commissioners said the digital scenery in “Peter Pan” had a strong impact on the production.
“It was pretty amazing to see instant set changes,” Commissioner Colin Sharman said.
Commissioner Bob Buchanan agreed.
“I went to the opening, and it was wonderful,” he said.
Judd Kuneman, post commander for Winter Garden’s American Legion Post, asked for the city’s support for a memorial service in September to dedicate a new 9/11 memorial.
The service will include dedication of Winter Garden’s 9/11 memorial. Bollhoefer said the city plans to have the memorial ready in time for a September service.
Winter Garden will select a time for the service that doesn’t conflict with other local memorial events.
IN OTHER NEWS
• The commission approved an ordinance to define digital billboards and clarify their use. This received a great deal of discussion during the May 14 meeting before passing unanimously. The ordinance allows for removal and relocation of existing billboards and replacing them with digital billboards. City staff has the flexibility to negotiate terms with individual billboard companies to get the best deal.
• Commissioners approved the fire department’s budgeted purchase of 27 self-contained breathing apparatuses and related equipment for $159,127 from Fisher Safety.
• The commission passed an ordinance to rezone about two acres on the northeast corner of Daniels and Roper roads from residential to planned commercial development. The developer plans to build 17,250 square feet primarily for medical use.
• Commissioners approved ordinances to rezone 44.83 acres on the south side of Marsh Road from City Planned Unit Development (PUD) to C-2 Arterial Commercial District. Rezoning the two acres of uplands allows Winter Garden to build a fire station and cell tower on the property.
• The commission approved an ordinance to officially add SunRidge Boulevard to the city street system. Community Development Director Ed Williams said the developer originally agreed to build the road but couldn’t afford it. The city paid for the road with the understanding that the homeowners associations along the road would reimburse the cost. The city has now received all reimbursements.
• The next commission meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. June 25, in City Hall Commission Chambers, 300 W. Plant St.