Wrecking Ball Stops

Demolition to clear the site for a downtown arena in Louisville, Ky., was stalled after state officials determined the demolition company hired to make room for the venue was awarded the contract illegally.

The arena, toward which the state is providing $75 million, requires tearing down an office building owned by Humana and a large Louisville Gas & Electric facility, according to the Courier-Journal.

Daryl Brown of Louisville-based CRS Demolition told local TV station Wave 3 that the Arena Authority gave bidders specific guidelines for the demolition but, after O’Rourke Wrecking was awarded the contract, things changed.

"The Arena Authority issued an addendum, specifically stating that the lower levels of the Humana building – which is the parking garage – are to remain intact and free from structural damage," Brown said.

Brown told the TV station that he was baffled after O’Rourke was awarded the contract at double his company’s bid. After doing some research, CRS Demolition and other companies found that O’Rourke received the $2.8 million bid because they planned to implode the entire building.

"They totally negated the addendum of saving the lower levels of the parking garage and had offered a plan to totally demolish the whole site at a price double ours," Brown said.

He was upset because his company wasn’t "given a chance to bid the job taking those floors out," adding that "we just want a fair chance at the job."

Arena Authority chairman Jim Host told the Courier-Journal that the authority issued a new request for demolition proposals May 28th and that responses are due June 4th. The authority will issue a new contract within a day or two of the due date.

O’Rourke crews have been on the site doing pre-demolition work since March and Host said the company will be allowed to continue to work through at least June 4th.

Host told Wave 3 News that O’Rourke offered the authority a separate proposal on implosion and he didn’t realize it wasn’t acceptable to the state. He told the Courier-Journal that he doesn’t believe the company was given an unfair advantage and noted that O’Rourke can submit another demolition bid.

The paper said actual razing is to begin in late June and be completed by late August. If all goes as planned, the site will be ready for construction in September with the arena completed by the fall of 2010.