BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Pike Company of Rochester will finish the Aud block Canalside project which has been stalled since late July after the original contractor was fired from the job.
Sam Hoyt, regional president of Empire State Development, confirmed today that Pike has been selected by Travelers Insurance, the company that issued a bond to secure the original contractor, DiPizio Construction of Cheektowaga. While Pike was Travelers choice, "we're very happy with it," Hoyt said. He described Pike as a "highly respected national construction team." Hoyt couldn't give the project's new completion deadline. Agency officials have said they expect that the project will be completed by next summer.
News 4's investigations team first reported on Thursday that the centerpiece Canalside project had a new contractor and on Friday disclosed that the fired contractor was fighting back with a lawsuit that makes sweeping allegations against state agencies and its leaders, Hoyt; Thomas Dee, president of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. and Mark E. Smith, the agency's construction director.
DiPizio claims it was made a scapegoat for delays caused by agency employees and that the family-owned company has suffered a loss of business and damage to its reputation.
The project, described as a centerpiece of the harbor development, calls for recreating historic canals filled with water in summer and frozen for ice skating in winter, towpaths and pedestrian bridges. The project's original deadline was November, 2012 but that was pushed back after Albany was delayed in clearing the funding.
The Pike Company of Rochester was the second lowest of the original group of bidders in late 2011.
DiPizio won the bid at about $19 million which was under the $25 million project estimate. Canalside officials said they expect the project cost to remain within the original bid.
Pike was one of three companies consulted by Travelers for bids to finish the job.
Pike officials could not be reached to comment on the selection. On its web site, Pike describes itself as one of the leading builders in the Northeast with a broad portfolio of public and private projects.
Travelers officials could not be reached for comment.
DiPizio was fired on May 8 but stayed on the job until late July by going to court seeking an injunction.
After days of testimony, the court decided that DiPizio's original contract with the ECHDC gives the state agency the right to fire the contractor. The lawsuit continues in State Supreme Court to determine whether DiPizio is entitled to damages.
The family-owned firm filed three other lawsuits on Friday claiming that the firing hurt its business and reputation, that the firing was null because the ECHDC board did not vote on it and that the Liro Group, the project manager conspired with the state agency to blame DiPizio for the project delays.
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