- The Weitz Co., part of the joint venture that is leading construction at the new $1.5 billion Kansas City International Airport terminal, has a history of slow payments, schedule delays and alleged defects on projects in the Kansas City, Missouri, area, according to The Kansas City Star. The paper is reporting that this information was not disclosed during the bidding process. The terminal developer is Edgemoor Infrastructure and Real Estate, and the other two partners that make up the CWC JV are Clark Construction Group and Kansas City-based Clarkson Construction Co.
- Edgemoor, an affiliate of Clark, won the bid to develop the terminal in 2017, and, as part of the qualification process, was asked to provide information on any fines or penalties assessed on previous projects as a result of schedule delays or budget overruns. Edgemoor did not disclose any of Weitz's prior delivery or payment issues nor a $5 million court judgment the owner of an apartment building project won against Weitz. Edgemoor told The Star that the questions about late payments and other prior project problems were directed at the developer, not its contractors.
- CWC has been contracted to manage the work as part of its design-build duties but the actual construction pieces will be carried out by other contractors, city officials said. Completion is scheduled for early 2023, a date that is non-negotiable, said Troy Schulte, city manager.
"While we are aware of the issues raised related to other Weitz projects in Kansas City, we do not have concerns about their performance on the new terminal project," Geoff Stricker, senior managing director for Edgemoor, told Construction Dive. "Our entire team is focused on continuing the positive momentum that has been building on the project."
For example, foundation work for the terminal just started this week, he said.
"The Edgemoor team is focused on meeting our schedule and budget commitments for the KCI new terminal project," Stricker said. "We continue to work closely and collaboratively with our client and airline partners to move the project toward a safe and successful completion in 2023."
Stricker added that Edgemoor and the CWC team have delivered thus far on the commitments they made to a transparent construction process via many community outreach meetings and a varied menu of benefits.
So, what does Weitz's history mean for the project going forward?
Attorney Keith Poliakoff, a partner in the Fort Lauderdale office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr and co-chair of the firm’s government relations practice group, said that the Edgemoor and CWC team seems to be managing the project well so far.
Even if the city had known about Weitz's past legal problems, however, it's unlikely that would have prevented the Edgemoor deal from moving ahead, Poliakoff said. It's not unusual for contractors to have some sort of litigation in their histories, and typically, he said, public agencies look toward the principal, in this case Edgemoor, if anything on the project goes awry. But that doesn't let Weitz off the hook completely.
"Yes, the municipality could have done a better job in vetting all of the partners that were within this proposal, but now that this has come to light, I am sure they will be watching the contractor even more closely to ensure that there are no issues," he said.
In April, as part of a strategic partnership program, CWC graduated the second group of participants in its construction management training program. The classes are geared toward minority and women contractors and are part of a larger commitment to diversity on the terminal project. So far, Stricker said, the KCI team has engaged more than 60 minority- and women-owned businesses on the new terminal.
In addition to the construction management training program, Edgemoor and CWC are also offering expedited pay, access to loans and grants, performance bond support, a pre-apprenticeship program, mentoring and internships for high school and college students. Those who are hired to work on the project will get help with transportation, childcare and medical services.