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Front Page » Top Stories » Miamis Performing Arts Complex Builder Battles 25 Million Cost Overrun

Miamis Performing Arts Complex Builder Battles 25 Million Cost Overrun

Written by on March 6, 2003

By Paola Iuspa
The contractor must absorb most of the cost overruns at Miami’s performing arts center, already at $25 million, according to the project director.

Performing Arts Center Builders, a partnership of Odebrecht Construction, the Haskell Co. and Ellis Don Corp., is responsible for getting the job done within budget and by fall of 2005, said Gail Thompson, heading Miami-Dade County’s performing arts center management office. The project has a construction budget of $255 million, as approved by the county commission.

The 570,000-square-foot complex, which straddles Biscayne Boulevard between 14th and 16th streets in downtown Miami, was scheduled to open in October 2004 but now is set to open in October 2005, said Rosemary Ravinal, marketing director for the Performing Arts Center Trust. The citizen-based trust will operate the center once it opens; the county will own the building.

"The latest schedule reflects a delay of 264 days," according to a Feb. 7 report from Ms. Thompson’s office. Summer rains and late steel shipments reportedly caused some delays.

Trust members said the contractor met with Ms. Thompson last week seeking to negotiate the $25 million shortfall. But Ms. Thompson said Friday that her office, a county department, would not assume any of the hard costs from the delay. Her office is reserving about $7.6 million from its $18 million contingency fund to boost work crews to speed the project and upgrade interior features.

"The contractor has an obligation to complete the project within the time and budget," said Parker Thomson, the trust’s chair.

"We are holding discussions with the contractor because of a time problem rather than a money problem," said Stanley Arkin, chair of the trust’s construction committee.

The county has the right to fine the builder $2 million for not completing the project on time, Ms. Thompson said.

"But the cost of the delay is much greater than the fine," she said.

The builder also can try to save money by subcontracting, she said, and has its own contingency fund available to balance the budget. With about 972 workers to date, the group contracted about $209 million worth of labor out of a planned $213 million.

Designed by architect Cesar Pelli, the center will consist of a 2,200-seat Carnival Symphony Hall, about 21% completed, linked by skywalk to the 2,480-seat Dolores and Sanford Ziff Ballet and Opera House, about 18% built.

Mr. Arkin said contractors fell behind on the ballet and opera house. But the symphony hall, Ms. Thompson said, is ahead of schedule.

The center also will include a studio theater for 200 guests and a cafe at the base of the former Sears tower.

Total cost of the project, including construction and furnishings, is $375 million, of which the county is to pay $340 million, including any contingency funds. The rest comes from the private sector.

The center will be home to the Concert Association of Florida, Florida Grand Opera, Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony.