County Hires Firm To Oversee Artscenter Construction
By Samantha Joseph
The new year will bring a new manager to oversee construction of the Miami Performing Arts Center, a project that has fallen nearly two years behind schedule and exceeded budget by more than $67 million.
The county will begin a 20-month contract Jan. 1 for up to $4 million with URS Corp. to oversee construction of the center. URS, currently project manager for the center, will provide onsite management and take over daily administration of the work, including inspections and construction monitoring.
The company has worked on the project on a monthly basis since last summer, receiving about $2.3 million. When the county advertised for a long-term consultant in September, the firm was the sole respondent.
Under the agreement, URS will report indirectly to assistant Miami-Dade County manager Bill Johnson through the Performing Arts Center Management Office.
The addition of URS to the management team comes on the heels of a long list of troubles plaguing the center’s construction.
Its hiring follows the demotion of construction manager Gail Thompson earlier this year. Ms. Thompson, who received $170,000 salary and about $20,000 in benefits annually, resigned in July.
After her departure, County Manager George Burgess named Mr. Johnson project director and sought permission from commissioners to hire 10 URS executives at hourly rates of up to $150 on a monthly basis.
Repeated construction delays have pushed estimated costs from $255 million to $412 million.
Center officials announced in May that they needed $19.4 million to meet preconstruction cost increases if the center was to be completed by spring 2006. The center’s opening date since has been postponed to September 2006.