Parking structure bid under estimate

The first structure at Newport Beach's new civic center is set to be built if the City Council on Tuesday approves a $7.8-million payment for a parking structure.

After a competitive bidding process, the city singled out an Anaheim Hills concrete company to likely build the three-story, 450-space facility.

The partially subterranean garage will serve a new City Hall, an expanded central library and surrounding public grounds. It is all part of a larger $130 million civic center project that broke ground in May.

With the city's finances tight, the ambitious project has come under scrutiny, leaving city officials to defend its cost and timing.

"Having private-sector companies doing the work, at a time when labor and material costs are low, is working well," Mayor Keith Curry said in a written statement.

An April 2010 estimate for the parking structure was $2 million more than the amount for the ultimate winning bid.

"That's a good sign," said Steve Badum, the public works director."It's all pointing in the right direction."

In the first phase of the project, which is already underway, crews have been excavating and grading massive amounts of dirt from the sloping site. The City Council has agreed to pay $8.1 million for that work. Combined with this second parking structure phase, the project will have cost $23.1 million to date, including contingencies and fees.

A portion of the parking structure will be below ground in order to protect the views from MacArthur Boulevard and neighboring homes. The garage will stretch along MacArthur, on the complex's east side.

Bomel Construction Company, an Anaheim Hills-based company, bid about $350,000 less than the next company, McCarthy Building Companies, for the parking work. Its total bid was $6.4 million. With other expenses, construction management fees and cost contingencies, this portion comes out to $7.8 million.

Other plans for the civic center include a 99,800-square-foot city hall building, a 14.3-acre park and a 17,000-square-foot addition to the central library.

The city anticipates having its building plans complete and permits pulled by the end of October, Badum said.

At that point, it will solicit the project's remaining bids.

In other council matters:

The city has reached a tentative agreement with Morningside Recovery, a rehab home operator, and will hold a public hearing about it Tuesday night. The agreement would limit the number of beds Morningside can operate and where the facilities could be, among other restrictions like noise and traffic limitations. For over three years, the city has been battling Morningside and other operators in court because they say the city's ordinances are overly restrictive. Newport Beach has spent more than $1.5 million fighting the lawsuits.

The council will consider revisions to the city's zoning code and new residential development standards. These provisions have been highly controversial among homeowners who believe they will negatively impact their community. Depending on where they live and how they interpret the proposed rules, homeowners have complained that they will either be too restricted when building their homes or that their neighbors will be able to build unsightly homes. The issue was so contentious that the Planning Commission was divided and failed to approved the draft changes in July.

If You Go

What: Newport Beach City Council meeting

Where: City Council Chambers, 3300 Newport Blvd.

When: Tuesday, Sept. 14, 4 p.m. Study Session, 7 p.m. Regular Meeting

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