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LEDCO board votes to hire firm to clear former hotel property in South Longview

By Richard Yeakley
Sept. 25, 2013 at 10 p.m.

The Longview Economic Development Corp. on Wednesday approved spending almost $900,000 to reclaim a former hotel property at Estes Parkway and Interstate 20.

LEDCO's board of directors voted unanimously to hire Kingwood-based Inland Environments to clear the blighted former Holiday Inn property in South Longview.

Inland Environments' proposal was the least costly of five received. It includes $288,000 for demolition; $55,000 for backfill, compaction and final grading; $48,770 for mobilization, insurance and bonding; and $38,888 for removal of underground storage tanks at an adjacent gas station.

The largest cost of $387,880 is for abatement of asbestos contatmination that was discovered during the purchase process.

"The executive committee reviewed the proposals in some detail ... I think there are some key points that the executive committee considered," said board president Keith Honey. "First of all, Inland Environments did submit the lowest proposal ... secondly, Inland does have extensive experience with multi-story building demolition and asbestos remediation. Third, this type of work really is their specialty."

Asbestos, used in building materials and other applications, is harmful if inhaled.

LEDCO Executive Director Susan Mazarakes-Gill said asbestos was found early, but the "significant amount" of asbestos on the hotel property was not fully known until Titanium Environmental performed a second inspection.

"This was all happening during our due diligence period, but the cost to remove the asbestos, that is something that we were not exactly prepared for," Mazarakes-Gill said, adding that if all the cleanup proposals had bid $500,000 for the abatement, as one company did, "That would have probably been a deal-breaker for us."

The other firms that presented proposals were Longview-based Excel Utility Construction, Shreveport-based Abatement Services, Houston-based J.T.B. Services and Longview-based East Texas Bridge.

During discussion about the contract, board member Jim Kendrick asked Honey if the executive board considered extending the contract to the local firm, Excel Utility Construction, because its proposal, at $906,530, was less than $8,000 higher than the winning bid.

"There was a lot of discussion about it ... and I think that at the end of the day ... we just felt like Inland had overall the best proposal," Honey said. "We did talk about it a lot, and actually the next lowest bidder would use an out-of-town asbestos remediation company."

He said Inland planned to use local contractors wherever possible. Honey added that the company had done work in Longview before, including at Longview ISD.

Reclamation work should begin in October and take about five months.

The LEDCO board previously agreed to spend $1.8 million on the project: $1 million to purchase the property and from $700,000 to $800,000 to demolish the structure and make the site ready for redevelopment.

On Sept. 12, the Longview City Council approved spending as much as $125,000 to aid in the property's reclamation.

Mazarakes-Gill couldn't say how much of that $125,000 would be asked for, but said it appears LEDCO is coming in barely over budget.

In other business, the board agreed to name Lester Lucy as president of the board and Joe Bob Joyce as vice president and secretary/treasurer for fiscal year 2013-14, pending Lucy's reappointment to the board by the Longview City Council.



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