O’Dea: All bids for new county courthouse likely to be rejected for exceeding $300M

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Jersey City Freeholder Bill O’Dea said that while the Hudson County Improvement Authority has received three bids for a new county courthouse, known as the Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex, they are likely to be rejected since they all exceeded $300 million.

Artist’s rendering via hudsoncountycourthouse.com.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“I think what’s going to be suggested to the county executive is to reject the bids, debrief with all three of the companies, try to understand why the prices were so high, and then they’ll bid again,” O’Dea told HCV this afternoon.

While projected costs for the 400,000 square foot building, which will lead to the eventual demolition of the one at 595 Newark Ave., have been in the $280 to $320 million range, the veteran freeholder said that the goal is to keep the budget for the project in the neighborhood of $280 to $285 million.

He also said that at this time, it’s doubtful that any proposal over $300 million would get serious consideration – which is the case with all three bidders.

“The Hudson County Improvement Authority has received proposals for the Criminal Justice Complex from three qualified bidders: Gilbane, based in Newark, Terminal Construction Corporation, based in Wood-Ridge, and Tutor Perini, based in Philadelphia,” HCIA spokeswoman Caitlin Mota said in an email.

“No action has been taken by the Authority at this time.”

O’Dea said that Terminal Construction’s bid was about $335 million, Gilbane’s was around $380 million, and Tutor Perini’s was over $400 million.

Given that the county’s current bonding budget is approximately $350 million, he can’t foresee a scenario where any of those options would be feasible.

The board of chosen freeholders will designate how to spend the money for new complex, tentatively set to be complete by 2022, while the HCIA has been designated as the redevelopment entity to implement the project.

In March, O’Dea was one of four county officials assigned to a committee to oversee the project.

The other three members are Hudson County Administrator Abe Antun, former Judge Daniel D’Alessandro, and the HCIA’s Brian O’Reilly.

The five-story complex is currently slated to include a park at the former courthouse site, a 75-seat public food court, a self-help law library, and a 459-space parking garage.

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