Summer school students enjoyed an extra week-and-a-half with their beloved ASUCD Coffee House, as contracting legalities caused a brief delay in construction.
The Coffee House began moving to its temporary locations on the east wing of the Memorial Union yesterday; however, construction may not begin for another four to six weeks.
The delay was caused by a bid protest among competing contractors, which will be settled in a hearing on Friday. Protests in construction can legally occur under state bidding contract laws, when the second-lowest bidder finds issue with the lowest bidder’s plans.
University officials will hear the protest in Oakland on Friday and will decide the validity of the protest within two weeks.
Should the university find that the lowest bidders‘ plans do, in fact, contain errors, the next lowest bidder will take over the project.
“What’s being questioned here is whether the lowest bidder properly listed all the subcontractors,” said Alex Achimore, senior project manager for architects and engineers. “The competing bidders have every right to look over the low bidder’s submittal very carefully and ask these kind of questions, so this is not unreasonable.“
The lowest bidding contractor priced the total cost of construction at $3,651,687. The next lowest bidder priced the construction at $3,699,409.
“Protests are pretty common with state projects,” said Catherine Buscaglia, another senior project manager with the Architects and Engineers department. “Especially now, when [economic] times are tough, because if the bids are close, the bidders are going to make sure things are done fairly.“
The delay in construction has not entirely slowed the project down, Achimore said. With the Coffee House equipment and traffic vacated, the construction team has been able to begin slight tasks without a contractor, such as prepare a truck dock for construction materials to arrive through.
“We’re taking advantage of the time to get a few things done before construction really starts,” Achimore said.
Coffee House employees have also used the delay to their advantage, bringing in revenue over the summer and testing new recipes for the temporary facilities, to be opened Monday.
“We didn’t have to get out as quickly,” said Sharon Coulson, Coffee House director. “There wasn’t a big rush to get out for the construction to begin. We got to stay longer and get used program.“
The delay, she said, allowed employees to launch a “pre-interim” program, sampling new grab-and-go meals to determine their success.
“By the time we move to our temporary locations,” Coulson said, “we’ll know how [the grab-and-go items] sell, what’s selling, what’s not selling and how many we need to make.“
The protest should not delay the final date of completion more than a quarter, or 10 weeks, Achimore said. After Friday’s hearing, the department will be able to better determine a new date.
“This kind of project – renovation and food service – is messy and difficult, but we do it all the time, and are confident it will turn out great,” Archimore said. “Delays are frustrating, but we will work through them.“
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at email@example.com.