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Front Page » Top Stories » Performing Arts Center Officials Wants County To Crack Down On Contractors

Performing Arts Center Officials Wants County To Crack Down On Contractors

Written by on September 11, 2003

By Shannon Pettypiece
Performing Arts Center officials want Miami-Dade County to threaten center builders with termination unless the speed and quality of work improves.

The center’s board seems concerned with design changes.

"To spend this much public money, do you want to find out at the grand opening that you can’t hear?" said Stuart Blumberg, a member of the Performing Arts Center Trust Board that will oversee the facility once it opens. "We are getting to the point now where we are seeing architectural and acoustic issues and we are going to be far less tolerant of repairs and fixes."

To prevent more delays on what was approved as a $370 million project on Biscayne Boulevard between 13th and 14th streets, the board passed a resolution Tuesday asking County Manager George Burgess to warn builders with a default notice.

But Mr. Burgess said he doesn’t want to default on the contract.

"It is my intention at this time that we can work together to resolve our issues," Mr. Burgess said later in the day. "We will be looking at all our options in the next several months."

Legally, he is the one who must issue a notice of default or turn the issue over to county commissioners.

Performing Arts Center Builders, a joint venture of Odebrecht Construction, The Haskell Co. and EllisDon Construction, disagree with the allegations.

"PACB respectfully disagrees with the Executive Committee Resolution and Construction Progress Report," said PACB Principal James Gray.

If a default notice is issued, builders will have 14 days to fix the problems before being fired, said County Attorney Deborah Mastin. The bonding company then would be responsible for construction.

The project has been officially delayed 322 days and only 30% of the work is completed in 60% of the original contract time.

Arts center officials said some delays are a result of the contractors having to backtrack and fix work initially done incorrectly.

The Performing Arts Center Management Office "continues to be greatly concerned with the quality of workmanship now that the architectural aesthetic is being impacted and the delays that result from the requirement to implement repairs or replacements are continuing to extend the construction schedule unacceptably," according to the construction progress report given to the board Tuesday.

Examples of alleged low quality work include the center’s acoustic joints, improperly built reverb chamber doors and the workmanship on the glass lantern on the south side of the concert hall, said Project Manager Gail Thompson and board member Stanley Arkin at the trust’s executive committee meeting last month.

The Performing Arts Center Builders, a join venture between Odebrecht Construction, The Haskell Co. and EllisDon Construction, disagrees with the allegations.

"PACB and its trade contractors continue to be committed to constructing a world-class facility with the quality and attention to detail it deserves," PACB Principal James Gray said.

Construction on the center, on Biscayne Boulevard between 13th and 14th streets, is scheduled to be completed in September 2005 with a possible grand opening in February 2006.

As of January of this year delays in construction were blamed on late steel shipments and summer rain. But in January Project Manager Gail Thompson said the project was only 90 days off the scheduled target.

PACB has filed for $10 million extra in construction funds to compensate for 250 days of added work. That claim has yet to be approved by the county.

If construction isn’t improved, board members said, the center’s quality will be far below what the public was promised. They passed a resolution Tuesday asking the county to issue a notice of default.

"The PACT Board has determined that the construction of the Performing Arts Center has been grossly deficient, both in its quality and its time to complete, and the construction completion to date is grossly behind any rational schedule," according to the resolution the board passed Tuesday.

A notice of default would be followed by seven days for the builders to decide on how to remedy the problem and another seven days for them to implement that plan before termination, said County Attorney Deborah Mastin.

Only the county manager can issue a default, unless he turns the decision over to the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, Ms. Mastin said.

"We see things happening on this site which warrant this resolution," Mr. Arkin said. "It is necessary at this time to make it very clear that time is not the issue here, it is quality."