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Published: Thursday, 1/26/2006

New construction firm is hired for steam plant


Developers of the vacant steam plant building on Toledo s downtown riverfront have dumped their Akron-based construction manager in favor of a local firm: Bostleman Corp.

David Ball, co-owner of Water Street Development Co. LLC with NBA star and Toledo native Jim Jackson, said Jera Contractors Inc. was not cooperating with its commitment to use local subcontractors.

He said they fired Jera on Friday and hired Bostleman of Maumee.

The choice last year of an out-of-town contractor for a city-assisted project added fuel to the controversy over former Mayor Jack Ford s choice of Mr. Ball and Mr. Jackson to redevelop the building.

At the time, the developers said they were in a pinch because the original construction management firm dropped out when it couldn t meet the developers $20 million budget.

Mr. Ball said Jera completed the first phase, including excavation and inspection of buried piers, but would not be retained for the construction phase.

I saw the handwriting on the wall that I may get heat from local labor that we weren t living up to our promise to use local labor, Mr. Ball said. Local commitment was one of the main issues. I didn t want to be fighting with my project manger.

An official for Bostleman confirmed the arrangement yesterday.

Jera s president, Dana Noel, could not be reached for comment.

The developers are planning 77 rental units in the existing building, and 34 for-sale units in an addition to be built facing the Maumee River.

The deal included $300,000 in city funds, most of which has been spent, city officials said.

Mr. Ball has said the project is complicated by the age of the building and the fact that it was built on fill. The developers have been investigating how much weight the existing pilings can support.

Mr. Jackson and Mr. Ball hired Cleveland architect Jonathan Sandvick to design the building and have applied for federal historic tax credits to reduce the cost of financing 20 percent. The project has to comply with National Park Service standards for rehabilitating historic structures to get the tax credits.

Mr. Ball said they are very close to approval of the tax credits.

But Franco Ruffini, deputy state historic preservation officer, said the developers haven t submitted the application yet.

Mr. Ball said the architects are working directly through the park service in Washington to ensure the design meets the standards for the tax credits.

We have gone as far as we can with site work without jeopardizing the tax credits, Mr. Ball said.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.

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