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Jax Daily Record Thursday, May 22, 201412:00 PM EST

Deal reached for concrete at hotel part of Riverwalk

by: David Chapman

Wood is out. Concrete is in.

That’s the agreement the city and Crowne Plaza Hotel came to, meaning the entire wood Southbank Riverwalk will be replaced with concrete.

The now $17 million project required riverfront property owners to sign off on the change in materials.

All did with the exception of the hotel, which feared the noise and work of pile driving would drive away business. Hotel officials also were concerned there weren’t assurances the work would be done in two weeks.

City Council member Don Redman, whose district includes the Riverwalk, had the city and hotel ownership come back to the table last week to try to reach a solution.

The Haskell Co., the project’s contractor, was running out of time on material prices established last year and needed to know whether to order wood or concrete for the hotel’s portion.

The talks worked.

Under the agreement, Haskell will use a second rig to ensure the work could be done in the two weeks spanning July 20-Aug. 4. The hotel dropped its request of close to $15,000-a-day requirement for each day that work went over the two weeks.

New to the project will be replacing the wooden stairs leading to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, for which Haskell has requested a $40,000 allowance. That amount still falls within the project’s contingency, with the hope it could covered if savings are found.

In addition, if “re-striking” the pilings is later necessary for testing, it will have to be coordinated with hotel management. It’s estimated about five of those pilings will have to later be tested, according to a Haskell e-mail.

The only case the pilings could take longer than two weeks would be in the case of a “named storm,” alluding to hurricane season, which begins June 1.

Wood was originally called for in the contract for that parcel, but the switch won’t mean a bump above the $17 million, Public Works Director Jim Robinson said. That’s because while concrete tends to be the more expensive material, the wood installation is more labor intensive. Combined with Haskell’s order delay, it won’t exceed budget and can be covered through the project’s built-in contingency.

The project began at $15 million, but would have stopped midway through the Wyndham property and would not reach the Duval County School Board building.

Council appropriated another $2 million to finish it up.

The latest changes won’t affect the timeline and it remains on schedule for a February completion.

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