The City of Ottumwa received the following press release from Blackbird, Tuesday afternoon May 14, 2019. The message was shared with City Council and is now being distributed to the general public.
Message from President of Blackbird to Stakeholders
Friends of Blackbird – As you may know, there has been recent media coverage about our project at the former St. Joseph Hospital in Ottumwa, Iowa, and a planned project in downtown Des Moines. This coverage contained many inaccuracies and did not include several of the pertinent facts. Given this, we wanted to reach out and share some additional information about these projects and our company.
Blackbird has a responsibility to neighbors, stakeholders, community leaders, tenants and vendors in every project we do. Ottumwa is no exception – we take this situation very seriously. However, a recent dispute with the demolition contractor has left the project at a standstill. We have entered into binding arbitration in order to settle this.
The basis of the dispute stems from billing discrepancies and the contractor’s false claim that the contract is 90 percent complete. An independent expert, engaged as a part of the arbitration process, has provided an assessment finding 16 percent of the demolition work to be complete. The sharp difference in the work completed and the work billed has been and continues to be, the sticking point that has delayed forward progress.
To date, we have paid the contractor $1.37 million dollars for work completed. The bottom line for our project in Ottumwa is that we are unwilling to pay for work that has not been completed. When possible, we will resume demolition before the arbitration process is complete, which does not preclude the pursuit of additional legal remedies.
Regarding the Blackbird Tower in downtown Des Moines, the approval and entitlement process is moving along appropriately and according to plan. We are working with the City of Des Moines on an expanded development agreement for the new site of our proposed tower, along with an additional structure and improved skywalk connections to neighboring buildings. Once that agreement is in place, progress on the site can begin.
We understand what has been reported may have prompted questions or concerns. The bottom line is Blackbird is strong, our staff is resilient, and the leadership is absolutely committed to successfully executing our mission of providing clean, safe, and affordable housing for people in every community we serve. We pride ourselves in taking on projects that are challenging but extremely beneficial to communities. These difficult projects often take additional time, energy and resources that are outside the scope of many normal development projects. As shown by our track record of exceptional work, our current and future projects will be exceptional and carry a huge, positive impact for thousands of people.
On behalf of the entire Blackbird Family, we appreciate our partnership and want to make sure you hear this information from us directly. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Rachel Wegmann, Communications and Marketing Director, firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Justin Doyle, President of Blackbird Investments