Frank Lloyd Wright marker bids run gamut
The bids to repair this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed monument range from about half the annual starting salary of the mail carrier passing by to five times that salary. | Irv Leavitt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 6:40AM
GLENCOE — Bids for restoring a damaged historic marker here vary by about 900 percent.
“Nobody expected this,” said Glencoe community development analyst Nathan Parch, who opened the envelopes recently.
He sent out the bid requests Oct. 6, to fix up the crumbling Frank Lloyd Wright sculpture marking an entrance to the Ravine Bluffs development at 205 Franklin Road. Four restoration companies replied.
Continental Construction Co. of Evanston bid $90,000; Bully & Andrews of Chicago bid $94,640, and Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio of Forest Park bid $156,000.
Smith Art Conservation of Long Beach, Calif., bid $17,387.50.
The high and low bidders professed to be as surprised by the distance between them as was Parch.
Andrzej Dajnowski has led his Forest Park firm through many high-profile restoration jobs in the area, including Lorado Taft’s huge, landmark Fountain of Time sculpture on the edge of the University of Chicago campus.
He said he didn’t think that anyone could do the Wright job for the low bid.
“Not unless that person’s trying to cut corners really significantly,” he said.
“He can make it look good for a few weeks, until they cut the check, and then he’ll hide somewhere. That’s the only way to do it for $17,000.”
Andrew J. Smith, of Smith Art Conservation, said his company is relatively young, and he’s trying to build up his business, but he has several big West Coast projects under his belt, and he’s not afraid of the Glencoe job.
He said he won’t disappear, and there’s nothing to worry about, anyway.
“It’s not such a big project,” he said. “Our crew can get out there and solve it, even though we’re based in California. We have the expertise and the know-how. We just happen to be 2,000 miles away.”
Architect John Eifler, a member of the Glencoe Historic Preservation Commission, reacted angrily Dec. 3 as the group reviewed the bids. Eifler, who often hires restoration companies in his work, had written part of the request for proposals for Glencoe.
“The village of Glencoe has only itself to blame,” he said.
He was perturbed that there was only one low bidder, and that firm was from out of town, and harder to press if something went wrong.
Eifler had warned the village about the deteriorating marker last year, and had asked Restoration by Marion, a Chicago firm, to send a written proposal. Later, when the ball-shaped planter actually started to disintegrate, Marion gave the village a new figure to work with.
The Nov. 2011 number: $15,350. August, 2012: $17,653.
The village put $17,000 in as a tentative line-item in next year’s budget.
At least one of Eifler’s fellow commissioners said he thinks that Smith adjusted his bid to be just lower than Marion’s unofficial proposal. Smith said he never saw the Marion proposal, which had received press coverage, until after the bidding was over.
Parch said Smith inquired about the job before the bid request even went out.
Marion’s Mario Machnicki never officially bid on the project. He said that if he had, he would have been a lot closer to the Long Beach company’s bid than to any other.
“I don’t know how Andrzej is bidding,” he said Monday. “It’s not that much of a challenge.”
Eiffler said later that he has to get used to the slow pace of government, and “I think it’s really hard to believe that (Smith) is not going to do a good job.”
Smith doesn’t have the job yet. The preservation commission will discuss the bids Jan. 8, and make a recommendation.
There are actually three aging Wright markers in the Ravine Bluffs neighborhood, but only the one at 205 Franklin has come to pieces. The Ravine Bluffs (homeowner) Association is expected to kick in some money toward the work, but it’s likely that for now, only the worst marker will be fixed.
The bidders were asked to bid on the other two, anyway.
Continental bid $70,000 for each. Bully & Anderson bid $79,900 for one, and $84,935 for the other.
Dajnowski’s firm bid $109,000 and $98,000.
Smith bid $10,058 and $11, 823.
He said, however, that Glencoe could have both for $19,881.50 in a package deal.