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Builder chosen for press project

Weigand gets slight nod over Hagerman

This article was originally published Feb. 22, 2006:

A local company has won the contract to construct the building that will house Fort Wayne Newspapers' state-of-the-art printing press.

Weigand Construction Co. Inc. beat local competitor Hagerman Construction Corp. when Fort Wayne Newspapers selected it to construct the 47,000-square foot building at Main and Van Buren streets.

"It was an agonizing decision," said Phil Haggerty, vice president of operations for Fort Wayne Newspapers. "They both have excellent reputations with respect to quality of work, and it came to a point where we had to look for who did things incrementally better than the other. It was very close."

Haggerty declined to reveal the value of the contract that Weigand received, but he said the total cost of the printing press project is $34.8 million.

Jeff Chrissikos, chief estimator at Weigand, said the company is excited about the project and working downtown.

"It's a very high-profile project," Chrissikos said.

He said he could not specify the value of the contract because details are still being finalized. Weigand's local projects include Homestead High School in southwest Allen County, Steel Dynamics' plant in Butler and the Jefferson Pointe shopping center.

Fort Wayne Newspapers is the business agent of The Journal Gazette and the News-Sentinel. It is formed through the partnership between the The Journal Gazette Co. and Knight Ridder Inc., which owns the News-Sentinel.

Fort Wayne Newspapers initially invited six contractors for interviews to help screen candidates, Haggerty said. Of the six, two were national construction companies.

"They backed out once they saw the strength of the local competition," Haggerty said of the national contractors.

Haggerty worked with the building's architecture firm -- Dario Designs Inc., based in Framingham, Mass. -- to pare down the local contenders to Weigand and Hagerman, which made final bids on the project.

The groundbreaking for the reddish brick building will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and the building will be ready to house the press by Jan. 1, Haggerty said.

"It's an aggressive schedule but we don't foresee any surprises," Haggerty said.

The new offset printing press -- built by Tokyo Kikai Seisakusho Ltd. in Japan -- will have the capability to print 48 pages back-to-back in full color. Further, it will allow The Journal Gazette and the News-Sentinel to print newspapers faster. The roughly 60-foot vertical press will be capable of printing up to 90,000 papers an hour, dwarfing the current press's capacity of up to 55,000 papers an hour, Haggerty said in an earlier interview.