Some cost overruns settled in mediation over arts center
By Shannon Pettypiece
Ongoing mediation over $57 million in cost overruns at the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami has divided $4.3 million between the builders and Miami-Dade County.
The county will pay an additional $2.9 million and builders and subcontractors will pay $1.4 million, said Odebrecht Construction President Luiz Rocha.
Talks among builders, the county, architects and an independent mediator will continue through April, when a final agreement should be reached on all the disputed money.
Assistant County Manager Bill Johnson would not discuss the mediation Tuesday, saying it would breach an agreement signed by the county, builders and architects.
In December, county commissioners pledged $4 million of the project's $18 million contingency fund to pay subcontractors under the condition that the county could recoup the money if it was not found responsible for cost overruns.
According to Mr. Rocha, the cost overruns result from unclear plans in the first stages of construction that led to delays and millions of dollars in additional costs, Mr. Rocha said.
One round of delays came during the planning stages when the subcontractors found they needed clarifications from the project's architect, Cesar Pelli and Associates, said Mr. Rocha, who heads one of three companies building the center.
The subcontractors filed 500 requests for design clarifications during the preconstruction phase and the county was not able to quickly respond, he said. While the subcontractors waited for clarification from the county and the architect, as much as $35 million in overhead costs and overtime piled up, Mr. Rocha said.
Of the $57 million in overruns, $22 million is a result of direct work from design changes, he said.
The project also was delayed when the architect added to the design after plans had been approved, Mr. Rocha said. The change increased the cost of some projects and forced subcontractors to revise their drawings.
Mr. Johnson said Tuesday that he would not give his opinion as to what caused delays because it should be left to the parties involved.
"I'm not going to mediate these issues through the media," he said. "It is inappropriate. I'm not going to put myself in the position to mediate through the newspapers. ... We need to be resolving these issues face to face."
Officials of the architectural firm would only issue a written statement read by telephone by a spokesperson. "We prefer not to debate the project issues in the press, and our focus is on building the most wonderful performing arts center we can for Miami," Cesar Pelli principal Fred Clarke said in the statement Tuesday.
The arts center is expected to open in late 2005, Mr. Rocha said. A final schedule is to be finished in February by an independent consultant hired in November.