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Franklin talking to new contractor about projects

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Within days of being contacted by the city, a new construction company was in downtown Franklin inspecting the facade work it was going to take over.

Terstep Co. came to Franklin to look at what had been done and was ready to get started working on buildings the next day, Mayor Joe McGuinness said. Before the company can begin repairing bricks and building new storefronts, the city has to figure out how much is left of the $650,000 planned to be spent on the project.

The new contractor will finish the job started by Advanced Restoration Contractors, which did minimal work on a $512,000 construction project to restore historic facades on eight downtown businesses.

The city is firing Advanced Restoration because the company hadn’t completed a single building since being hired in July. But the city still has to pay the Indianapolis-based company for the work that was done

Project architects from DLZ reviewed every building included in the project and determined what percentage of each project has been completed. Now they are determining a total price for that work.

What’s it worth?

Work also can’t start on those projects until Terstep tells the city how much it wants to be paid for the remainder of the job. If that amount is more than what’s left, the city would need to launch a search for a new contractor, which would further delay the project.

Terstep was originally the highest of the two bidders on the project, but the company said it will still honor the same prices it bid for services, and city officials should have an idea how much it will cost by this week.

The hope is that the city will have enough money from the state grant, local tax dollars and contributions by the businesses to pay Terstep to finish the project by summer. That won’t meet the original deadline of March 31 set by the state, but the city has asked for an extension from the state office overseeing the grant funds, McGuinness said.

The faster, the better

The mayor didn’t have an estimate of when all the facades would be completed but said the plan is for the new contractor to get started immediately after being hired.

“As soon as that contract is in place, they want to get rolling,” McGuinness said.

The city has to pay Advanced Restoration Contractors so the company can be removed from the project. McGuinness met with company officials in mid-December and told them he wanted to see progress being made. When workers still weren’t consistently on the job, the mayor decided to fire the company. It will be paid for the work that was completed successfully before the city can officially hire Terstep.

“They have done some work that is satisfactory; and by contract and by law, we have to pay them for that,” McGuinness said.

The new contractor has been in Franklin preparing to take over the job. On Feb. 3, Terstep, architects and city officials walked to each of the eight buildings that will be restored as part of the project and looked at what work, if any, had been done on each building. Workers will tear out and replace storefronts at six businesses, finish brick repair on Huddleston and Huddleston law office and restore the marquee at the Artcraft Theatre.

Some painting work has been done at the downtown businesses, and workers did part of Huddleston’s building. But none of the storefronts was started, and nothing has been done to the marquee at the Artcraft.

Terstep was the only other company to bid on the project during the summer, but Advanced Restoration offered to do the work for a lower price and was hired. Despite Terstep quoting a higher price initially, McGuinness thinks the city should still be able to complete the work within the construction budget.

Terstep has agreed to honor the prices from last summer and was purchasing many materials from the same suppliers as Advanced Restoration, so those prices will be the same, McGuinness said.

Terstep has worked on several government-funded projects in the past, including completing renovations on Union Station in downtown Indianapolis. The company has provided information, such as insurance coverage, that is required for government projects in anticipation of getting started in Franklin, McGuinness said.

The contractor could be working as early as this week despite the continuing cold weather. Construction of the storefronts might still be delayed until materials arrive, but work to finish the brick and mortar repairs on the Huddleston law office could start immediately.

“It doesn’t seem like it was a big deal if it was 25 degrees out. With proper tenting and heating, they could be out there working right now,” McGuinness said.

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