Brinker won’t fight contract change

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Though Brinker Group LLC had its name attached to all the signage and promotional materials for the Hill District SHOP ’n SAVE construction project, Chairman and CEO Larry Brinker said it will not contest being replaced as the project’s construction management firm.

As reported in the New Pittsburgh Courier last week, Hill House Economic Development Corp. Project Manager Jason Matthews replaced Brinker after failing to agree on costs.

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LARRY BRINKER

According to the company, its initial bid of $5.6 million was based on architectural drawings that were only 65 percent complete. Brinker was then asked to trim its bid by nearly $1 million despite design changes and the shifting of some costs from the owner to the contractor.

The company will submit final invoices for site preparation management, which is nearly complete, and for recommendations made during the pre-construction value engineering phase of the project.

“We sincerely appreciate the confidence of Hill House Economic Development Corp. in selecting us as the site work construction manager in preparation of its grocery store. However, as an African-American firm, we regret that Brinker Group did not have an opportunity to manage the complete construction of this historical grocery store,” Brinker wrote in a prepared statement.

“Initially, through a competitive bid process we were chosen to manage the construction of the entire project. But, after extensive architectural changes and an increased scope of work by Hill House, it became apparent that we could not meet our approved bid price. It is our hope that the newly selected construction firm can finish the project responsively and under budget. The citizens of the Hill District have waited a long time and deserve a first class grocery store.”

As the Courier noted last week, the new general contractor is CMI Contracting, which is partially owned by Max Starks Sr. The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh has been assured CMI will keep subcontracting and labor agreements that HHEDC Executive Director Jules Matthews said would put Minority Business Enterprise participation at 80 percent, and would also provide more than 5,000 hours of Section 3 resident employment among the community.

The 29,500 square-foot SHOP ‘n SAVE is to anchor the Centre Heldman Plaza, across from the Hill House. The store, operated by multiple store owner Jeff Ross and his family, will feature fresh meat and produce, a deli, and a bakery. The store opening is now slated for Spring 2012.

Brinker Group, based in Detroit opened a regional office on Pittsburgh’s North Side in 2009 shortly after securing the contract to build the parking garage for the Consol Arena. It is currently a member of the construction team building the K. Leroy Irvis Science Center at the Community College of Allegheny County’s North Side campus, which is also scheduled for completion in 2012.

(Send comments to cmorrow@new­pittsburgh­courier.com.)

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