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Date of Issue: March 29, 2007

City pier restaurant costs escalate in Bradenton Beach

bb pier

Property owners who have experienced the joys or dismays of home renovations will be familiar with the chagrin of Bradenton Beach officials when they learned that the city pier project is coming in a "bit over" the budgeted amount.

City commissioners last week approved about an 11 percent hike in the total cost of construction of the new restaurant, dockmaster building, bait and tackle shop and bathhouse facilities at the Historic Bradenton Beach City Pier, at the east end of Bridge Street.

Good news: it's only about 11 percent over what had been planned.

Bad news: The total amount of change orders approved is $167,501, with an estimated additional $20,000 expected to be approved at The Islander press time March 27 at a special city meeting.

Total cost for the pier renovations has been estimated as of last week at $1,832,211, according to the project architect, Tom O'Brien, and contractor Southern Cross Contracting of Sarasota.

Commissioners approved six change orders to the original bid of Southern Cross last week. Some of the changes and increased costs were due to unforeseen work that was needed — asphalt slabs and concrete found where only dirt was expected while laying utility lines and pipes, or changes made on the plans by other regulatory agencies after initial plans were presented and approved.

Other changes were made after consulting with the pier concessionaire, David Russell, who will be running the Rotten Ralph's operation at the restaurant at the pier. Southern Cross representative Tom Edwards said that it was noted that the windows on the north side of the building should be refitted to allow easier cleaning.

Edwards said that a still-pending permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection caused his company to totally revamp the work schedule on the project. Initially, Southern Cross planned to do the restaurant first, then build the three separate, stand-alone buildings to the south of the pier proper. Now, he said, the dockmaster, bait and tackle structure and bath house would be first in the ground.

The permit delay could cause an extension of the completion on the job, but all involved believed that once work gets fully under way the deadline of Aug. 6 should not only be met but expedited.

"We hope to be eating grouper sandwiches on the pier on the Fourth of July," Police Chief Sam Speciale said. He has taken the task as facilitator of the pier project in the wake of former building official Ed Mc Adam's resignation from the city two weeks ago.

Although the city commission unanimously approved all six of the change orders last week, it wasn't without some grumbling.

"It's a total of a lot of money that should have been addressed at the beginning," Vice Mayor John Shaughnessy said of the window changes.

"Why wasn't this brought to the light of day during the design?" asked Commissioner Michael Pierce regarding waterline alterations.

And Southern Cross's Edwards said that there may be a few more changes to the contract to come before the city before the whole job is done, including: sanitary sewer lines that were supposed to be 8-inch as are actually 4 inches, more backflow piping is needed than anticipated, galvanized rather than plastic pipes for fire service needs on the pier itself, and a bigger heating and cooling system in the covered-restaurant portion of the restaurant.

Commissioners will be meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays for the next few weeks to address the pier matters, subsequent to regularly scheduled 9 a.m. meetings Friday where the pier team, contractor and others gather to discuss the pier construction status.