Corte Madra selects contractor for $12.47 million town hall over objections of second-place contractor

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corte madero town hall
Rendering of the new Town Hall (Provided by Town of Corte Madera)

Corte Madera officials have selected a Richmond-based contractor for the Town Hall rebuild project, despite a last-minute protest by a competing bidder, The Marin Independent Journal has reported.

Alten Construction will build the project on a $12.47 million contract, following a unanimous town council vote on April 5.

There were six applicants.

On the morning of the council meeting, Holly Construction (which offered the second best bid) submitted an appeal citing irregularities in their competitor’s bid proposal, the published report said.

Town staff and the town’s attorney reviewed the appeal, but decided to stand by their recommendation to hire Alten Construction, said public works director R.J. Suokko.

“They have all the qualifications and skills you’d want in a contractor,” Suokko said. “And numbers coming in well below estimate is an exciting thing to see.”

Alten Construction submitted a base bid of $10.4 million. The engineer’s estimate was $13.25 million.

Since the winning bid was significantly below the estimate, town staff decided to include a photovoltaic solar and battery backup system with the contract, said town manager Todd Cusimano. The system was identified as an additive bid item in the request for proposals.

“This is a big momentous day for us,” Cusimano said. “We’re really excited about the lowest responsible bidder, Alten Construction,” he said, adding that the firm is responsible for the public safety centers in San Rafael and Sausalito, among other projects. “Alten is very well known to staff and the county.”

The council agreed last year to raze and rebuild Town Hall instead of trying to salvage the aged building. The decision was influenced by community input that noted that renovating an old building could bring unforeseen costs and ongoing maintenance.

The Planning Commission signed off on the town hall design in June. The project calls for a two-story, 11,000-sq. ft. building with council chambers to accommodate 95 people. The project would include options for zero net energy and zero net carbon.

Suokko said staff decided to upgrade the project from “risk category: 2 to a category 3 building, which requires additional seismic reinforcement. The upgrade cost $15,000 in additional design fees and is estimated to add about $50,000 to construction costs, he said.

“It seemed like a smart thing to do given our intent is to serve the community in times of need,” Suokko said. “Power shutdowns, wildfire, whatever it may be, we want it to be a resource.”

Alten Construction owner Bob Alten told the council he is excited to get on board. “We don’t need the project, we want the project,” he said. “I can guarantee you’ll have a great project.”

The project is being funded with $7.6 million in bond financing, $3.5 million from the general fund and $1.37 million from the town’s sales tax fund.

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