Monday, April 2, 2012

Covington HOPE VI project breaks ground

On Thursday, Kentucky Congressman Geoff Davis (R-4th) joined Covington Mayor Chuck Scheper, developers from Atlanta-based Integral, representatives from the Housing Authority of Covington (HACOV), and community leaders to break ground for the River's Edge at Eastside Point, the long-awaited replacement for Jacob Price Homes in the city's Eastside neighborhood.

River's Edge at Eastside Point, located in the 6-acre block bounded by Prospect Avenue and Greenup, E Robbins, and E 11th streets, will consist of nine three-story apartment buildings and two one-story buildings housing senior cottages. Approximately 60 percent of the units will be subsidized, with the remainder renting at market rates.

Much of the funding for the project is provided by a $17 million federal HOPE VI grant. HACOV will leverage and additional $23.6 million in public and private investment.

Built in 1939, the 163-unit Jacob Price Homes was Covington's first public housing complex.

In 2004, HACOV began exploring redevelopment of the complex, citing high operating and maintenance costs caused by the buildings' age and obsolescence.

The Eastside Neighborhood Association fought the proposal, but, in 2006, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved HACOV's redevelopment plan. Tenants were relocated to other HACOV properties throughout the city, and all but one building – the community center and office – have been removed.

Bid process questioned

The redevelopment is not without controversy.

In early March, Florence-based architecture firm CDS Associates released an independent report that concluded that the bidding process conducted by Integral should be reopened due to several irregularities.

The low bidder had been named as IBG Construction Services LLC, a subsidiary of Integral. But CDS Associates found that IBG's bid had omitted the cost of builder's risk insurance and permit fees, and had budgeted extremely low numbers for lap siding, carpet, and landscaping and irrigation.

The CDS Associates study said that, due to its low bids, IBG Construction Services could find itself with insufficient funding to complete the project, since it may not be able to subcontract the work.

It also pointed to conflicting information and multiple changes to the bid's due date, which could have frozen out prospective bidders.

But a March 23 letter from HACOV's Board of Commissioners said that all of those concerns have been addressed, and that the housing agency intends to have a third-party estimator review the construction plans before submitting an estimated cost to HUD.

And last Monday, IBG Construction Services issued its first advertisement for bid for the project, seeking qualified contractors to perform public improvements at the site. Improvements include an extension of Garrard Street across the development; the repair and replacement of roadways, curbing, and sidewalks; new landscaping; street and directional signage; and street lighting.

Bids are due April 24.

Photo courtesy of Michael Monks / The River City News

Previous reading on BC:
$17M in HOPE VI funding sought for Jacob Price redevelopment (12/8/09)