The D.C. government has awarded a contract to sell millions of dollars in advertising on bus shelters throughout Washington to a company that is co-owned by William B. Fitzgerald, president of Independence Federal Savings and Loan Association, and a New York-based bus shelter firm.
Convenience and Safety Corp. of Washington, the firm owned by Fitzgerald, and Convenience and Safety Corp. of New York, won exclusive rights to erect as many as 500 bus shelters and to sell national and local advertising on the metal and glass shelters. The 10-year contract is expected to produce about $10 million in advertising revenues.
The city government will receive a franchise fee of $300 per shelter a year or 10 percent of the advertising sales, whichever is greater. The amount was set by the city and applied to all companies seeking the contract.
Alexander J. Mautner, executive vice president of Convenience and Safety of New York, said his firm considers the nation's capital "a very important advertising market."
Mautner, a former New York City transportation commissioner, said Convenence and Safety of New York is the largest national bus shelter firm with contracts in Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., Nassau County, N.Y., several Chicago suburbs and for New York's Aqueduct and Belmont race tracks.
The decision to award the contract to Convenience and Safety Corp. of Washington, was made Monday by John E. Touchstone, city public works director who is also serving as acting director of the Department of Transportation, the city agency responsible for the bus shelters.
Touchstone said yesterday that Convenience and Safety submitted "the best all-around" proposal.
Six firms competed for the bus shelter contract over the past five months. Fitzgerald, a close confidant of Mayor Marion Barry, is one of several friends and political allies of Barry who are affiliated with various companies that were seeking the contract.
Annette Samuels, Barry's press secretary, said yesterday that Barry would have played a minimal role, if any, in the decision.
The first 200 shelters required under the contract will take about a year to build and require a capital investment of about $1 million, according to Mautner.
While the capital investment has been guaranteed by Convenience and Safety of New York, Mautner said he understands Fitzgerald will put up some of the capital, possibly as much as 50 percent, and will share in the profits. Mautner said Fitzgerald's participation satisfied a city requirement that gave preference to firms at least half-owned by minorities.
The proposed design for the shelters and a company's previous advertising and bus shelter experience were among other criteria included in the city's written specifications.
Granville Corp., a D.C. consulting and job training firm headed by John Clyburn, will maintain the shelters for Convenience and Safety of Washington. Mautner said the choice of Granville was part of the firm's attempt to enlist as many D.C. firms as possible in the contract.
Clyburn, a close friend of former city administrator Elijah B. Rogers, said about 40 to 50 jobs will be created and that workers will be given an opportunity for higher-level job training. He said Convenience and Safety will pay his firm about$200,000 for the work.
Fitzgerald has been involved in bidding on a number of other major city projects. A group in which he is a partner has won the right to develop the Gallery Place renewal project, and another firm in which he has an interest is in the running for rights to develop empty tunnel space under Dupont Circle. A group involving Fitzgerald was among the losing bidders on the recently awarded contract to operate the city's new daily numbers lottery game. CAPTION: Picture, WILLIAM B. FITZGERALD . . . contract value put at $10 million