It was another raucous City Council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 18, but one local developer walked away with a contract and he didn’t even have to answer a single question about it.
With no discussion the City Council voted unanimously to award a no bid professional services contract to Kotis Properties to design the A&Y Greenway from Markland Drive south to Benjamin Parkway for a price not to exceed $600,000. Marty Kotis, the president of Kotis Properties, attended the meeting but wasn’t called on to speak about the project. The contract was on the consent agenda, which is for noncontroversial items that aren’t expected to need discussion and were all voted on with a single vote. Kotis had to wait for a couple hours for the City Council to get to it, but then he was done.
It seemed odd to have this contract on the consent agenda, since this is the first time the city has contracted with a private developer to design a portion of the greenway. Assistant City Manager David Parrish said that the city was exploring contracting with other developers and large property owners to design portions of the greenways adjacent to their properties.
The A&Y Greenway will connect to the Downtown Greenway and the northern terminus is now north of Lake Brandt in Summerfield. When complete it will allow people to commute into downtown Greensboro by bike or on foot without ever being on a street, except where the trail crosses a street.
Parrish said that the price sounded high but was in line or less than what the city had paid for the design of other portions of the greenways.
City Manager Jim Westmoreland said that there was no request for proposals (RFP) for this project and that Kotis came to the city with the proposal to design this portion of the greenway. Westmoreland said that Kotis had plans to develop property to take advantage of the greenway and this would move the project along quicker than if the city undertook it.
Westmoreland said, “He will be able to design things for his particular properties.”
Westmoreland said that if the city designed this portion of the greenway, it would be slower and Kotis would have to meet with the design professionals the city hired to discuss his plans. He said Kotis had an interest in getting the project moving quicker and the city had an interest in helping him advance his development along the corridor.
Westmoreland said that having Kotis do it, “makes sense. He has the ability to retain an engineering firm and agreed to the MWBE [Minority and Women Business Enterprise] participation.” He added, “We’re interested in doing anything we can to help him advance his investments.”
Kotis said that it made a lot of sense for his company to do the design because, except for one piece of property, either Kotis Properties or the city owned all the property adjacent to that portion of the A&Y Greenway.
Kotis also said that because he is a private developer and accustomed to cutting costs, he thought he could do the job at a better price and also design a greenway that will be less expensive to build.
Parrish said that one reason the price seemed high was that it involved more than what most people would consider design. He said that when Kotis is done the city should be able to take the plans and have everything needed to bid the project.
One thing is certain, Kotis can’t do it any slower than the city. The Downtown Greenway has been a city project for 15 years and less than one mile of it has been completed.
City Councilmember Mike Barber said that he was always looking for projects the private sector could do for the city. He said, “The private sector is going to do it quicker, it’s less expensive and it’s going to be more efficient in 100 percent of the cases.”
Professional services contracts, unlike construction contracts, don’t have to be bid by the city.
One concern that some people expressed was that the $7 million to build the A&Y Greenway is part of the $126 million bond package on the ballot in November. If the bond doesn’t pass the city may not have the money to build the project no matter how well it’s designed.
Barber said that didn’t bother him at all. He said, “I don’t mind getting out ahead of projects.”
The A&Y Greenway is named for the old Atlantic and Yadkin Railroad and follows the now abandoned tracks. This part of the A&Y Greenway runs between Battleground Avenue and Lawndale Drive and then along Battleground Avenue down to Benjamin Parkway. It will run behind the Red Cinemas and Marshall Free House down to Benjamin Parkway.