Lone bid for Nicollet Mall revamp project comes in $24M over budget

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The facelift of Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis will have to be redesigned after only one contractor made a bid to carry out the project – and that bid was $24 million above the city's budget.

The city confirmed to BringMeTheNews just one contractor offered to do the mall's long-awaited revamp, with their bid of just under $59 million well above the $35 million the city had targeted.

As a result, changes to the plans – which would bring new trees, planters, lighting, seating, street paving and artwork to Minneapolis' main thoroughfare – will have to be made as the project is scaled back.

"The City is now considering changes to the project that would reduce costs while retaining the primary elements of the Nicollet Mall redesign, and that would also encourage more bids," a City of Minneapolis spokesperson told BringMeTheNews.

Changes to the project will be made in the coming weeks and will be put out for new bids in March. The start of the work, originally planned for early spring, will be put back to late spring/early summer, though the city says it is still expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Concrete pavers to blame for cost

The Star Tribune reports the concrete pavers intended for the street and sidewalks is a big reason the project is too expensive, with City Director Steve Kotke saying there are not many local contractors who specialize in working with such material.

The newspaper has also spoken to a few building firms about why the project is more expensive than anticipated, with Hector Bruce of Thor Construction saying: "It was a lot for the price they wanted. The more questions we asked, the more we realized there would be problems ahead."

MPR reports city planners are now looking at alternative surface materials for the sidewalk and streets, but intend to continue with the original vision for the landscape, artwork and streetscape.

The overall budget of the project is $50 million, with preliminary work having already started last year.

The project is being funded by both private and public money. The state Legislature committed $21.5 million, the City of Minneapolis is paying $3.5 million and downtown property owners will pay the remaining $25 million through a special assessment, the Nicollet Mall Project website notes.

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