Tampa considering auction overhaul after Hanna Avenue controversy

TAMPA — For months, Mayor Jane Castor and city officials have claimed they did nothing wrong by not renewing a municipal contract for a massive municipal complex after costs soared tenfold.

And Castor defended against reviving the project because his decision to move quickly on much-needed workspace for city workers and a boost for economically struggling East Tampa.

Yet at Thursday’s city council meeting, Castor’s administration put forward a proposal that would prevent another downtown project in which the initial $10 million design-build contract soared to at least $108. millions of dollars.

Future projects should revert to the city council as a new contract if their costs increase by more than double the original estimate, Assistant City Attorney Morris Massey said.

The changes would impose a “limitation on the ability to increase the scope of the project,” Massey said.

Black community leaders and contractors staged vigorous protests from late last year after rumors spread that the Hanna Avenue project had not been renewed despite massive increases the costs and the number of departments and divisions of the city moved.

Related: Bidding process on huge City of Tampa project comes under scrutiny

In an effort to increase transparency, the city would post design-build contracts widely online and notify minority- and women-owned contracting companies via email, Massey said.

For several months, city officials refused to name who made the decision to move forward with DPR, the construction management company that won a contract in 2015 to design and build workspaces. municipalities on an 11-acre property at 2515 E Hanna Ave. This contract included much more modest plans for a relocation of some municipal services, including the police department. But those plans were put on hold until 2020, when city officials decided to move quickly on the larger project.

Last month, Castor told the Weathers she had made the call.

Related: The City Center project still has unanswered questions

The City Center project was not mentioned by Massey during his brief presentation. No council member asked him how the proposed changes relate to the Hanna Avenue project, which would bring hundreds of city workers to East Tampa.

Asked if the changes represented an admission by the Castor administration that the Hanna Avenue process was flawed, its spokeswoman Lauren Rozyla emailed a statement that didn’t answer the question.

“The administration followed the state’s Consultant Competitive Negotiation Act (CCNA) process every step of the way. We listened to concerns raised by community members about the current law that governs procurement. This is a great example of the Administration working with the Council to bring additional transparency to a complex process,” Rozyla’s email read.

Separately, council members unanimously approved an ordinance requiring landlords to give tenants 60 days notice if they plan to raise rent.

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The order notes that rents have risen by nearly a third in just over a year in the Tampa Bay area and residents are facing a housing crisis.

The order also increases the notice period to 30 days before a month-to-month lease can be terminated.

The new ordinance would apply to current tenants, city officials said.

Laura J. Boyer