Osceola terminates negotiations with Skanska USA for NeoCity office bldg

Osceola County will turn to its second choice after failing to agree to contract terms with Skanska USA to build the first office building at NeoCity.

Commissioners voted Monday to terminate negotiations with Skanska and begin discussions with the selection committee's second-ranked firm, Moss & Associates.

Skanska, which completed the $70 million BRIDG center at NeoCity this year and is building UCF's Downtown Orlando campus, was always Osceola County's first choice -- along with SchenkelShultz Architecture -- for the 100,000-square-foot office building. Commissioners voted to begin negotiations with both firms back on Aug. 7. 

The board approved a contract with SchenkelShultz on Oct. 2, choosing the firm's Class B+ design, which is projected to cost around $15 million. The architect also proposed a Class A design, but it was estimated to cost nearly $20 million.

Both the architect and construction manager at risk (CMAR) emphasized their unique ability to meet the county's tight timeline for the building, which will serve as the temporary home for a new STEM magnet high school slated to open there in 2018. 

But negotiations with Skanska broke down not long after one of the company's top local executives, Robert Utsey, left to join Sean DeMartino in the new Orlando office of Coastal Construction.

ZHA Vice President Darrel Brostrom, owner's rep for the county, alluded to a possible shakeup at Skanska's Central Florida office back in July when the selection committee was ranking the proposals for CMAR.  

"I felt Skanska's proposal was very strong," he told the selection committee in July. "But I happen to know there will be some changes in staffing over there that we'll be learning about very shortly. They've got a couple of people with very light experience on the team." 

The Moss & Associates team has a long work history with Osceola County, having build local schools, the county's courthouse and the baseball stadium at Osceola Heritage Park.

One of the company's unique selling points is the standard practice of building a mockup of every project that demonstrates the building's  exterior, interior finishes, paint colors, and systems.  

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