City hotel plan gets bids from 3 builders
Whiting-Turner, Texas, Colo. firms seek project next to convention center
Baltimore development officials had asked for a new round of bids after Whiting-Turner, a former member of the hotel development team led by Robert L. Johnson, failed to meet the construction budget.
Hilton Hotels Corp. adjacent to the convention center on vacant land just north of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Just three of the five qualified builders turned in bids by Monday's deadline, BDC officials said yesterday.
Joann Logan, a spokeswoman for the BDC, said city officials had not established a time frame for choosing a builder and had no further comment yesterday on the proposals.
"They have just been received, and at this point they need to be reviewed and analyzed," Logan said.
The city expects to open the hotel in 2008.
Besides Whiting-Turner, the others competing for the job are FaulknerUSA of Austin, Texas, and Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Greeley, Colo. - they are both builders specializing in convention headquarters hotels.
Steve Speer, a vice president at Hensel Phelps' district office in Chantilly, Va., had said the contractor was attracted to Baltimore's project because it is building a similar hotel in downtown Denver, a 1,100-room Hyatt. The company also is renovating the Pentagon and the operations building at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn. Yesterday, Speer declined to comment on details of the bid submitted to the BDC.
"Obviously, it's something we're excited about, and we'd love to do the job," Speer said.
Officials with FaulknerUSA and Whiting-Turner did not return calls yesterday.
Two other design-build firms that had been pre-qualified did not submit proposals.
"After analyzing the project documents in further detail, we elected not to pursue the project at this time," said Daniel L. Peyton, a senior project manager for Bethesda-based Bovis Lend Lease.
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Hunt Construction Group also had been pre-qualified but did not end up bidding.
BDC President M.J. "Jay" Brodie said in early March that four separate construction estimates from Whiting-Turner, which has been involved in the project since fall 2003, came in over budget. The city is allowing an estimated $195 million for construction, including hotel furnishings and fees paid to development team members. Other costs include items such as bond insurance, fees, a reserve fund and interest payments during construction.
The BDC has kept the rest of the team intact, which includes developers RJL Development LLC, the company run by Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, and Quadrangle Development Corp., architecture firm RTKL Associates and hotel operator Hilton.
City officials say the city needs a four-star hotel adjacent to the Baltimore Convention Center to boost flagging business at the center and compete for conventions with Philadelphia, Boston and Washington. The hotel would reserve 600 of its rooms for conventions.
The city's planning commission endorsed plans earlier this month for the hotel. The commission unanimously approved bills that would create a property tax district for the hotel, authorize sale of up to $305 million in revenue bonds to pay for it and close streets for its construction.