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By Andrew Tellijohn, News Flash
After a bid protest over minority participation postponed its previous attempt Miami International (MIA) has re-issued an RFP seeking a bookstore/café© operator in its new South Terminal.

Airport officials had planned to award the contract to Borders Group as part of a November 2005 RFP during which 27 retail locations in eight packages located in the North and South terminals were to be filled. But confusion surrounding how the selection committee should have scored disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) participation and a further mix-up by Borders on its own DBE presentation threw the bookstore/café© location back to square one.

“It’s in the airport’s best interest, in terms of reducing the airport’s [legal] exposure, and in terms of giving everybody a fair chance,” Miami-Dade County Aviation Assistant Director for Business Retention and Development Miguel Southwell told the Miami Herald.

The process has left Borders frustrated and unwilling to participate in the second RFP, according to the paper, while Hudson Group told ARN it was considering whether or not to make a second attempt at filling the spot.

DBE Participation Error
When the original proposals were received, two players had bid on the bookstore/café© space: Borders Group and AMS South Florida, a joint venture between the Hudson Group and SF Airport Retail, which is owned by MIA tenant Raymond Kayal Jr. and former MIA lobbyist, lawyer and businessman Christopher Korge.

According to the Herald, Miami-Dade recommended in June 2006 that the bookstore be awarded to Borders, with the final vote scheduled for mid-July. Then the confusion started. The selection committee had scored Borders 87.6 points higher than AMS. AMS protested on July 11, however, disputing Borders’ disadvantaged business enterprise participation and ownership.
AMS argued that since the RFP had no DBE participation goal that Borders should not have received extra points for including minority participation. The evaluators had awarded them 265 points.

AMS also questioned the identity of the Borders’ DBE. Borders had said it would have 35% participation through Dunkin’ Donuts, which had been scheduled to provide 100% of the café© operations, but AMS argued the confectionary is not a DBE.

Borders’ proposal, according to the Herald, also stated that Carrie Management would be the café© subcontractor. A hearing was held Aug. 4, and the examiner found the process was in order. A month later, however, Borders sent a letter saying it had discovered a mistake – Carrie Concessions, Carrie Management’s largest member, was a DBE, but owned only 40% of Carrie Management. Two other owners who held the other 60% were not DBEs, preventing Borders from achieving the necessary 51%, says Patricia Ryan, division director of commercial operations at MIA told the Herald.
Borders recommended substituting another DBE firm, but Ryan told the Herald “the decision was made that this then altered what was proposed to the selection committee and the airport decided to reject all bids.”

New packets for the RFP have been issued with bids due July 12. Borders, which already has one bookstore at MIA, told the paper it doesn’t plan to re-bid. “We’re extremely disappointed in terms of the process they are having us go through again,” says Susan Zewicke, vice president of the U.S. operations, to the Herald.

Laura Samuels, a spokeswoman for Hudson Group, told ARN the company’s original plan had been to pair a Hudson Booksellers with a Chocolate Fashion café©, a local bakery brand with “strong regional flavor”.

Samuels was noncommittal on the company’s plans for the second proposal.
“We are considering it,” she says.