Construction company thrives, two others step aside
By Kyle LoJacono
It is nearly impossible to drive through Pasco or north Hillsborough counties and not see signs for Ripa & Associates.
The company is currently working on about 10 construction projects, some for the counties and some for private developers.
“We’re proud to be a great presence in Pasco County and north Hillsborough County,” said Chris Laface, Ripa’s executive vice president. “The area has been very good to us and we’re honored to be given the chance to develop the area.”
Some of the larger projects the company is working include:
Collier Parkway extension, Land O’ Lakes
Concord Station Community, Land O’ Lakes
Road work in Dupree Lakes, Land O’ Lakes
Road work in Stonebriar Community, Lutz
Bruce B. Downs Boulevard widening, Wesley Chapel
CR 54 extension for the Cypress Creek Town Center, Wesley Chapel
The Medical Center of Trinity, Trinity
The most expensive contract completed by Ripa was $20 million to build roads and put in utilities at The Grove at Wesley Chapel. Echo Development hired Ripa to do that project, which was finished about two years ago.
The company also built Sunlake Boulevard extension in Land O’ Lakes and the extension of SR 56 to Meadow Pointe Boulevard and the development in Terra Belle community, both in Wesley Chapel. It also did roadwork and utility installation for the new Odessa Elementary School, Anclote High and Fivay high schools in Pasco.
In Hillsborough, Ripa completed the road widening and improvements to Van Dyke Road in Lutz in front of St. Joseph’s Hospital-North.
Laface said the number of recent projects was not uncommon five years ago when the economy was booming, but the current workload is higher than it had been for several months.
Pasco Chief Project Manager Robert Shepherd said the county does not play favorites when awarding contracts because public money is being used.
“Generally the county awards contracts to whichever company is the lowest bidder,” Shepherd said. “Ripa has been awarded quite a few projects. They’ve done a good job getting projects done on time or earlier and without much trouble at all.”
Ripa was founded in 1998 by Frank Ripa and is based in Tampa. The company has more than 200 employees and does earthwork, utility/infrastructure work and roadway construction in Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Hernando and other central Florida counties.
Ripa has even handled projects it did not win the bid for after other companies failed to complete work. Ripa picked up work on the SR 56 and Collier extension after another company filed for bankruptcy and lost insurance coverages according to Pasco Chief Engineer James Widman.
Ripa put the final touches on the SR 56 extension, which opened July 31. Laface said the Collier extension is much further from completion as it was less than half finished when Ripa picked up the project about a month ago. Its project in Dupree Lakes, funded by Beazer Homes, will eventually connect the neighborhood to Collier.
Shepherd said Ripa was selected by the company that insured and bonded the original contracts with the first company. He said the bonding company is required to pay any additional cost above the contract, so no new county money is needed for those projects.
The contract for Collier was for $4.3 million and for Sunlake $1.5 million. The original contract for the SR 56 project was $60 million and was shared by three developments — Wiregrass Ranch, Wesley Chapel Lakes and Seven Oaks, according to Shepherd.
“They most have been able to do it for less money,” Shepherd said. “Otherwise the bonding company wouldn’t have picked them as it is money out of their pocket if it’s more expensive.”
Laface said the company has been keeping its bids as competitive as possible during the down economy to keep their workers and equipment moving. He said that will keep their name in the market and will benefit the company once the economy turns around.
DAVID DUNDAS says
What are they building next to Southport Springs on Chancey Road?
Mary Rathman says
I am sorry, we don’t know what is being built there. If you would like to check with Pasco County’s planning and development department, someone there might be able to provide the requested information. The number for the planning department can be found on the Pasco County website, which is http://www.pascocountyfl.net.
B.C. Manion, Editor