The David Rubin Land Collective is an empathetic design firm, the company's founder said.
“We problem-solve on behalf of others and their constituents – namely you and your constituents – toward a successful resolution,” David Rubin, principal of David Rubin Land Collective, told the Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday night. “Landscape for us is this broad horizon view, this notion that it is comprised of a spectrum of people.”
After about 45 minutes of presentations and questioning, the council unanimously approved a $2.4 million contract with the Land Collective for design and planning work for phases 2 and 3 of Fort Wayne's downtown riverfront development.
The Land Collective is responsible for providing schematic designs for infrastructure, flood mitigation and environmental solutions for private and public investment in the area. Designs and construction documents for public-space improvements and along the edge of the St. Marys River are also included in the contract.
Rubin said the firm's goals are to create public improvements along the river edges that improve access, providing “functional and wonderful” spaces along the way. The other goal, Rubin said, is to encourage private development and work within the constraints and challenges of a river.
The contract was previously held while city officials held a competitive sealed bid process for the contract. Mayor Tom Henry's administration did so at the request of Councilman John Crawford, R-at large, who said he believed proper process was not initially followed.
The Land Collective submitted one of two bids to the city for the contract, coming in about 50 percent higher than the lowest bid. However, because of the number of hours involved in designing a project the size of the riverfront, city officials said they felt the David Rubin Land Collective was the most responsive bidder.
“(The low bidder) did not provide the level of detail about tasks and deliverables and the coordination of this project that we have (with David Rubin),” said Paul Spoelhof, a planner with the city's Community Development division.
City Engineer Patrick Zaharako said his major concern with the bids was to complete hydrologic analysis required by federal agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers.
One of the risks with going with the low bid, Spoelhof said, is it can be easy to become detached and focus solely on design and lose sight of elements like the economic reality of a project.
“David pointed out the fiduciary responsibility that this is feasible,” Spoelhof said. “What is feasible in Fort Wayne is not the same thing ... as what is feasible in Chicago. It is uniquely feasible to Fort Wayne and that analysis has to happen and the conversation has to happen between the analyst and the designers, the planners, the architects and the landscape architects.”
In an interview Wednesday, Crawford said he was satisfied with the answers provided at Tuesday's meeting. Plus, the competitive sealed bid process meant the city saved about $100,000 on the contract, Crawford said.
“At the end of the competitive sealed proposals, you got two things: competition and some aspect of price discovery,” Crawford said. “We ended up with a better contract just by going through it.
“Making them go through that process saved $100,000 and got us a better understanding of what we're going to get for this.”