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Bids for Sioux City parking ramp, convention center upgrades come in $2.5M over budget

July 23, 2018

SIOUX CITY -- In mid-May, Sioux City Council members hoped for lower-than-expected bids when they approved construction documents for a new parking structure and renovations to the Convention Center downtown.

They have received just the opposite.

Bids for the two related projects came in a combined $2.5 million over budget, according to city documents.

The City Council on Monday will consider whether it will accept or reject the bids and if changes to the projects are in order.

The city also will likely have to find more local taxpayer funding to put toward the project. The $4.8 million budgeted for the two city projects, of which about $4.3 million remains, was to be replenished through funding from the state of Iowa’s Reinvestment District program. The program, which helps fund big-ticket projects that boost tourism, allows the city to divert new state sales and hotel taxes in a designated district to approved projects over a 20-year period.

City Finance Director Donna Forker said funding options will be part of the city’s 2020 capital improvement plan discussions.

Sioux City is planning to build the new two-story parking deck at Fifth and Virginia streets to serve a five-story Courtyard by Marriott Hotel that’s under construction on the former Convention Center parking lot directly to the south.

The city also plans to make improvements to the Convention Center itself, converting some of its convention space into a ballroom and extending the building so it connects to the new hotel.

The two city projects, combined with the privately funded hotel, are expected to make the venue more marketable and attractive to events and conferences. Earlier this summer, the ramp and convention center projects were sent out for bid, and both have now come in nearly 50 percent above the expected cost.

The low bid for the two-story parking deck was submitted by Nelson Construction, of Sioux City, for $3.7 million -- more than $1.2 million over the architect’s estimate.

The low bid for the Convention Center was submitted by W.A. Klinger, of Sioux City, for $3.07 million -- more than $1 million above the architect’s estimate.

City public works director Dave Carney said some of the issues that pushed the bids higher were specialty items like ticket-taking and ticket-processing equipment, as well as higher labor costs and rising material costs.

During Monday’s meeting, city staff will recommend the council accept Nelson Construction’s $3.7 million bid for the parking deck but reject all bids submitted for the convention center.

Carney said he doesn’t believe the city could receive much better bids on the parking project, and re-bidding it could push its completion past the opening date for the hotel, anticipated for August 2019.

“That really needs to be open when the hotel opens,” he said of the parking deck.

Carney said the timetable for the Convention Center renovations can afford a slight delay, and he believes some adjustments could at least somewhat reduce the overall price tag of the project.

“As far as the Convention Center goes, we are looking to reject all bids and looking at cost-saving measures,” he said. “We think the best way to get the best bang for our buck is to rebid it.”

Hard Rock wants to close street

In other action Monday, the council will take up a recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Commission to allow the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City to close the block of Pearl Street running between Third and Fourth streets.

The Hard Rock currently owns the 300 block of Pearl Street, which separates the two sides of its surface parking lot, but still allows traffic through an agreement reached with the city prior to the casino’s construction in 2013.

The casino has requested the closure for safety reasons, and the closure will also enable it to add 25 parking spaces.

Sioux City’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the closure 4-1 earlier this month. The City Council has already approved a development agreement with the Hard Rock specifying the city would close the street to public traffic.