UPDATE: Officials announced the price tag for the Washington State Convention Center project has grown from $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion, according to the Seattle Times. Developers said they approved the higher cost before selecting the Clark-Lease Crutcher Lewis JV as replacement contractors.
Developers said the price tag bump is due mostly to rising costs associated with acquiring steel and buying the additional Seattle property for the expansion. Despite the higher price tag and new contracting team, construction is still expected to be complete in 2020, and funding will come mostly from bonds that are repaid by hotel tax revenue, according to the Times.
- After a high profile booting of its previous construction manager, Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) officials have selected the next lowest bidder — the joint venture of Clark Construction and Lease Crutcher Lewis — to take over its $1.44 billion expansion, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported.
- Convention center management terminated low bidder Skanska-Hunt's contract after deciding the contractor was "not the right fit" for the project, a move that led to a brief standoff in Washington Superior Court over the convention center's right to replace Skanska-Hunt using the same delivery method.
- Convention center officials avoided a potentially lengthy court battle and months-long delays to the construction schedule by agreeing to settle with Skanska-Hunt for $8 million, essentially "paying them to walk away."
Although WSCC officials and the project's management company Pine Street Group said that Skanska-Hunt was not the right contractor for the project, court records disclosed that officials were unsure if Skanska-Hunt had the capacity to reduce project costs enough to reach the targeted savings amount. Skanska-Hunt said that they never received any complaints while on the project and that the firing had come as a surprise.
Skanska-Hunt's original proposal was $21.2 million, $9.5 million less than that of the next lowest bidders, the joint ventures of Clark-Lewis and Mortenson-PCL. The reported terms of the Skanska-Hunt settlement allowed officials to either start the bidding process over or pick one of the two losing contractors, so the WSCC went with Clark-Lewis. Pine Street Group official Matt Griffin said Clark-Lewis' higher price would be made up elsewhere in the budget during the course of construction.
WSCC officials were anxious to resolve the Skanska legal action and restart the construction process as the expansion is seen as a future booster for the local economy. Post-expansion, the convention center will be twice its current size and have room for more conventions and special events. Convention center officials said that the Seattle facility has lost out on approximately 300 events and $1.6 billion because it wasn't big enough. Despite the delays, officials say construction on the project will begin on schedule in 2017 and be complete in 2020.