Downtown Mall Project Outsourced

Much of the Downtown Mall redevelopment work is being done by out-of-town firm, Dave McNair writes in this week’s Hook. Local firms bid on the work, but they were beat out by companies in Norfolk, Maryland, and Michigan. Only two of the seven contracts went to local businesses. One of the owners of those local businesses complains that while they pay reasonable wages, the out of town companies are trucking in guys for $8/hour. The city seems to be in an awkward position here, not least of which is that state procurement laws (which the city has to function under) only allow them to prefer local firms when there’s a tie between two bidders. But more than that, the city’s got to get this job done as inexpensively as possible…but they’ve also got to keep local businesses happy. And those two things are, as we can see here, often at odds.

16 Responses to “Downtown Mall Project Outsourced”


  • Can anybody say “Living Wage?”

  • Doesn’t everyone who contracts with the city have to pay a living wage?

  • Barton Malow may be Michigan-based, but they have offices on 10th Street (NE) and have been in town for a while. They were the lead contractor on the JPJ and have done tons of other work for UVA.

    What annoys me right now is that 1st Street (SW) is blocked off and yesterday afternoon was being used as nothing more than free parking for a couple of pickup trucks, ones I’m guessing were affiliated with the rebricking project. There was plenty of space in the surface lot, and probably plenty of space in the garage, assuming the pickup trucks could get in there.

  • I can say living wage. Can anyone say, “add 3 million to the mall and I am happy?”

  • No kidding.

    City procurement laws >> paying local businesses at a higher rate, which obviously is *ripe* for corruption.

  • Will we ever know the actual cost of this project, or does anyone really care? As I see it the Construction Management Firm is getting the living wage, and all others associated with the project are getting the crumbs.

  • My point about the living wage is that the City (in particular the City Council) has been all hot and bothered about dictating that the so-called living wage is basically a human right…except when they’re the ones bidding out the jobs.

  • I find it interesting that local contractors are now complaining that they are not being chosen. How many years has it been since we’ve had even two contractors to bid on a project? It wasn’t that long ago that I read about a project having to be re-bid because there were no bids, local or otherwise.

  • Oh, and it was Ms. Marshall who said the workers were being paid as little as $8/hour. The city’s code says that all contractors and subcontractors must pay $11 /hour (living wage). It’s the kind of thing that may not be easily enforece.

  • In the construction biz a living wage would be impossible to enforce.

    “hey, bring your friend and I will give you 13 an hour and you can split it…”

    “Si Jefe.”

    I am not saying this is occurring, but that it is easy to do.

  • I thought Martin-Horn got all the projects in C’ville?

  • if i remember correctly, the AG determined that cities cannot require a living wage for contracts, only their own employees. I’m guessing that, somehow, the Dillon Amendment is involved.

  • Former Teacher, I think there was a question about the Dillon Rule, but this is what I found in the city’s code by your question:
    “ARTICLE I. IN GENERAL
    Sec. 22-9. Living wage requirement.
    (a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, every city contract for the provision of non-professional services, awarded after a process of competitive sealed bidding, shall require that the contractor pay each employee assigned to perform services under the contract, while such employee is performing such services on property owned or controlled by the city, a wage no less than the lowest hourly wage paid by the city to its own employees (“living wage”).”
    There’s more stuff in that Article concerning Living Wage but I think this isn’t taken out of context.

  • If you read the story more carfully you’ll see that Ms. Marshall is talking about locally projects generally, not the Mall project specifically, when she mentioned the $8 per hour. Unfortunately, I think Waldo’s original post suggested otherwise. I’ve since been informed by the city that the workers doing the brick work on the Mall project will be making between $12 and $15 per hour.

  • “Contractors from out-of-town are underbidding us, and I’m getting tired of it,” says Stephanie Marshall with Marshall Contracting & Masonry, who was passed over in the bidding process for the Mall project. — It becomes a question of juxtaposition and paragraphing, Dave McNair. Sorry, I read it as Waldo did.

  • Yeah, that’s kind of confusing, Dave. Sorry. :) But thanks for the clarification!

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