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City to continue demolishing Condill Hotel with NAPP Enterprises

Fort St. John city councillors voted Monday to continue demolition of the Condill Hotel with its current contractor NAPP Enterprises, but stopped short of approving a budget increase for the work pending further negotiations with the company.
condill
The Condill Hotel in Fort St. John.

Fort St. John city councillors voted Monday to continue demolition of the Condill Hotel with its current contractor NAPP Enterprises, but stopped short of approving a budget increase for the work pending further negotiations with the company.

NAPP is expected to resume the demolition immediately, the city says, after it halted work in January when council ordered a legal review of its procurement practices and a pair of hazardous materials assessments completed as part of the tendering process.

Demolition of the 75-year-old hotel has been repeatedly delayed after NAPP said it encountered up to three times more asbestos containing materials than it expected to clean up when it bid on the work. That has led to work stoppages, and two more assessments having been completed to understand the full extent of contamination that needs to be removed before the building is torn down.

“It didn’t matter who would have purchased this building, they would have faced this,” Mayor Lori Ackerman said.

“The reality is Worksafe BC has indicated this building needs to be taken down in an appropriate fashion. Council had questions, the questions have been answered, our contract process was sound and secure.”

The city had budgeted $1.5 million to buy and demolish the building, which included its $870,000 purchase price approved in a closed council meeting last July. Councillors had given NAPP the demolition work for $457,480, in October, but last month the company and city staff told council costs have increased an extra $823,500 since demolition began.

“We found areas in that property where there is 16 layers of flooring, areas that have three layers, areas that have 12,” NAPP President Barry Barnes told council.

“You take the onion and peel it back to the core. There’s only one way to do that and unfortunately it costs a lot of money.”

Some of the extra costs have already been paid for through project contingencies, however, there’s another $636,827 worth of change orders before the city.

City staff had last month requested the project's budget be increased to $2.15 million, but council has directed staff to negotiate completion costs with NAPP and determine its remobilization schedule. NAPP had a fourth, third-party hazmat assessment completed in January to provide cost assurances and the amount of contaminants present, the city says.

The city’s “best estimate” of the total value of the purchase and demolition of the Condill is now $2.2 million, said Moira Green, the city's director of strategic services.

“There’s an opportunity for us to have a conversation with NAPP about some of the costs that are included in the total purchase,” Green said.

“We know we’re going to proceed, we know what we think our total costs are going to be. We need to have some conversations about those total costs and that’s between us and the contractor.”

The city is paying for the project through its land purchases budget, which is funded by monies from the city’s Peace River Agreement with the province, which compensates the city for industrial development outside its boundaries.

Releasing NAPP from its contract and retendering the rest of the demolition would have cost the city at least half a million dollars or more, according to acting city manager David Joy. Those costs would have included new hazmat assessments costs, consultant fees for the new tendering process, site security, as well as legal fees and legal claims for lost profits.

The demolition is roughly 40 per cent complete.

The city took possession of the Condill, built in 1942 to house American soldiers during Alaska Highway construction, on Sept. 29, 2017.

After demolition, the site—comprised of three separate titles and lots—will be sold for development and fall under new downtown zoning and building rules. 

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca