Peary Court Deal Already Raising Eyebrows…


Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….

**UPDATE Jan 5, 2015 6:15 pm**  City Manager pulled the item from the agenda…


Surveyors hired by the City want $29,116 for travel, meals, and hotel expenses to inspect the housing units at Peary Court.  The survey is part of the due diligence process associated with the possible purchase by the City of the old Navy housing on White Street.

As part of their $165,951 cost estimate, Saltz Michelson Architects, a Fort Lauderdale firm, also wants $61,610 to perform “visual inspections” to include structural, electrical and plumbing system inspections for the 157 housing units. [According to the firm’s proposal, however, this will be limited to “visual only” inspections for mold and termites, the flipping of electrical switches, verifying that water comes out of faucets, and checking for watermarks on ceilings.] The company will also verify whether the air conditioning systems for the 49 buildings are functioning — that will cost an additional $5,785. Only 16 units will get a “detailed inspection” and a repair estimate – for a further cost of $18,590. And then there’s an additional $8,400 to summarize the inspections and the detailed reports.

On Tuesday, the City Commission will decide whether or not to accept Saltz Michelson’s proposal. Commissioner Sam Kaufman told The Blue Paper he will be inquiring about lowering those costs. “I believe the standard price is around $300 per unit for a home inspection,” said Kaufman, “at least, that’s what I’ve paid every time I’ve needed that service.” If Commissioner Kaufman is correct, the cost for detailed inspections for ALL 157 units at Peary Court should be around $47,100, 5 times cheaper than the current proposal.

To be fair, the service also includes the processing of wind insurance mitigation forms.   In the Keys, for instance, Accurate Home Inspections advertises a cost of $175 per building for this service. For Peary Court, 49 of these forms would be filled, one for each of the 49 buildings. However, at Peary Court, all of the buildings are essentially the same: They were all built at the same time, using the same standards and materials. Nonetheless, the firm is asking $26,050 to fill out the four-page form, 49 times.

“This is so typical, “ says community advocate Christine Russel, “18 million to refurbish Glynn Archer school into City Hall, $150,000 to renovate functioning bathrooms at Mallory Square, and, of course, we’re going to pay over 17 million for infrastructure at a waterfront ‘park.’

The City did not go out for bid on the Peary Court inspection contract. Contracts over $20,000 are normally required to go through a bidding process; however, in May 2015 the City chose Saltz Michelson Architects to be a general consulting firm for “architectural projects.” Thanks to this “continuous agreement,” it appears the City’s position is that it no longer needs to call for bids for this type of service. The statutory exemption to bid requirements, however, is not valid for “study projects” that cost over $200,000. Interestingly enough, the initial proposal came in at $190,836.

It included $24,885 for “police escorts.” The City, however, decided to provide the escort service outside the contract.  (Does anyone really believe that surveyors will need police escorts to enter Peary Court homes?)

Since this proposal is only an “estimate,” any services required by unexpected circumstances would be charged over and above this amount.

Voters will decide in March via referendum whether to purchase Peary Court for 55 million dollars to help alleviate the City’s workforce housing crisis.

Stay tuned.


You can watch the City Commission meeting live here or watch it on demand later on here.

Here’s another example of costs for home inspections in Florida.


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