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ORLANDO-Sanford, FL, a blue-collar, 125-year-old city of 35,000 permanent residents 25 miles north of Downtown Orlando, draws unwanted daily headlines associated with commercial real estate projects quicker than a stinging bee.

In the latest flareup, Sanford city officials told Harbco Construction Inc., an Orlando-based general contractor, it cannot use Grupo Mora & SouthCees Group de Mexico as a subcontractor to rebuild the five-mile sea wall on the planned $10.3 million Downtown Riverwalk project because Grupo Mora is not licensed in the United States.

Harbco immediately tore up its $9.1 million contract with the city and walked off the job. Sanford then quickly started talks with its second contractor choice, Wharton Smith of Lake Monroe, FL.

Only Wharton’s bid was $11.3 million, a sticky negotiating wall for Sanford officials to mount, area developers watching the bizarre activity tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

“Sanford now is in the awkward position of having to cut a new contract for a higher price and delay the 16-month construction project once more,” a construction industry estimator in nearby Heathrow, FL tells GlobeSt.com.

Officials at Sanford City Hall, Harbco and Wharton Smith couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline.

The Riverwalk project is planned as the centerpiece for a proposed $18 million, 45,000-sf lakefront convention center and possibly a 200-room, seven-story, $55 million hotel. Those projects, like Riverwalk, have been in the talking stage for the last five years.

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