Contractors fall behind in construction of new fire station

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 04:13 PM

Construction of a new city fire station on Camden Avenue has fallen far behind schedule, to the point a building that was supposed to have been ready in late in 2013 might be complete in October.

General Services Department officials blame the delay on contractors and want the City Council’s approval to spend more money on supervision and inspections to whip the project back into shape.

“So it’s a big mess and we’re having to spend a bunch of money to fix it,” Councilman Don Moffitt said, summarizing the situation with the new Fire Station 9.

Council approval is likely next month, and memos indicate the project for now remains within its original $4.3 million budget.

The building is going up on Camden Avenue and is replacing an existing station on East Club Boulevard that dates from the 1970s and has no expansion space.

The project is important because its design is supposed to provide the template for other new fire stations going forward, updating the prototype architects used from 1995 in laying out six prior stations.

Council members green-lighted work late in 2012, awarding a $2.1 contract to Charlotte-based contractor Morlando Construction.

Morlando was one of 15 companies to bid on the project, its offer coming in $46,000 below the next-best bid once officials settled on the options they wanted to add to the design.

Work began in February 2013. Since then, there’s been no shortage of trouble.

Morlando attributes at least some of the problems to weather, claiming it’s experienced nearly three months’ worth of delays because of wet conditions.

But General Services and the project’s architect have had to put their foot down over structural issues, with both the building’s framing and its roof trusses being faulty. Morlando wound up having to fire the truss subcontractor and bring in another one to undertake repairs.

Still, matters got to the point in February that General Services formally notified Morlando’s insurer that it considers the builder as being in breach of contract.

Department officials said a “failure to supervise the project and supply properly skilled subcontractors result[ed] in nonconforming and defective work.” They also claimed the contractor hadn’t responded adequately to demands for remedial work.

The insurer is now “monitoring Morlando’s progress,” and city officials intend to recover as much of the extra inspection and supervision expenses as possible.

“We’re pursuing all contractual remedies available,” said Jina Propst, a General Services assistant director.

The station’s designer and a consulting firm, both previously on retainer, will provide the extra supervision and inspections. Officials figure the additional oversight will cost $191,485.