Construction work on the $15.1 million Crown St Mall revamp is set to be delayed for at least another two weeks due to unresolved issues over tenders, Wollongong City Council has revealed.
The long-awaited mall makeover was due to begin with the demolition of the Church Street seating, amphitheatre and the steel archway structure in early February.
However, the start date was pushed back to this week pending the outcome of what was expected to be the awarding of the final three tenders for the project – overall construction, paver supply and replacing the underground water main– at this evening’s council meeting.
The start date for the refurbishment hinges on finalising the outstanding tenders, as councillors had agreed on the need to sign off on all the mall tenders so they knew the overall cost of the revamp before it went ahead.
But now, in what appears to be another delay for the troubled project, council staff have said none of the tender submissions for the main construction contract are suitable and should all be rejected.
In a report to be presented to councillors tonight, the council claims the companies who applied to carry out the construction were either too conservative in pricing some of the works or misunderstood the specifications and terms of the contract, which staff said could result in a cost blowout and/or time delay down the track.
Staff have instead recommended council officers sit down with representatives of each company during the next week to spell out the required works and negotiate the best price.
The council’s infrastructure and works director Peter Kofod said he expected to be able to recommend the best contractor to the council in time for its February 24 meeting.
If councillors agree, the earliest work could start on the site is February 25.
Mr Kofod blamed the flow-on effect of changes made to the refurbishment plans last year for the current delay.
‘‘It was hoped we would have had all this [appointing contractors] done by now but because of the changes to the design, the process has taken longer,’’ he said, but maintained getting the details right at this point in the project would reduce the risk of further delay during construction.
‘‘We have lost a month [of construction time], and we’ll have to look at how we can make up that time,’’ he said.
‘‘[But] the more thorough we are in this process now, the more we remove the risk of going over budget or failing to complete the project in time.’’
The tender covering the supply of pavers to the project is also recommended for rejection, with staff saying the colour outlined in the original plan was too light, and may ‘‘cause excessive glare on sunny days and may appear dirty in a very short period of time’’.
The council will investigate getting a darker colour, which the Mercury understands could come at a higher cost.
Councillors will vote on the matters this evening.