Newport wraps up City Hall project at $142.2 million
By DEEPA BHARATH
NEWPORT BEACH Nearly a year after moving into the new Civic Center complex, council members signed off on an agreement to wrap up what is now a $142.2-million project.
The City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday, with Councilwoman Leslie Daigle dissenting, to pay $2.2 million to construction company C.W. Driver as part of a settlement agreement to close out the project.
Daigle said she would not approve the settlement because C.W. Driver gave the city a guaranteed price, but failed to deliver on that promise.
“They gave us a very powerful sales pitch, but they did not keep up that guarantee,” she said.
Mayor Rush Hill disagreed with Daigle saying that claims from C.W. Driver related to changes in the scope of the project and were not the construction company’s responsibility.
“We have to settle this now or pay more later,” he said. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s a reality we have to face when we close out a project.”
Hill has maintained that the architect on the project, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, contributed to the price increase with design changes, but also said that they were not the only reason the city is looking at an higher price tag on the project, which opponents have dubbed “the Taj Mahal.”
By approving the agreement, council members have signed off on project-related claims from contractors for carpentry, landscaping, ceiling finishes and other changes prompted by design modifications.
According to a staff report, while the original claims from contractors and sub-contractors totaled about $8.2 million, some of those costs were absorbed by C.W. Driver and architect Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, and the city was left with $2.2 million to pay to avoid potential legal battles.
Steve Badum, the city’s project manager on the Civic Center project, said after Tuesday’s meeting that the city could go after the architectural firm to recover additional costs.
“But, I don’t see that happening,” he said. “We had a good project team. We worked hard and rode this thing together. When you consider the complexity of the project, the cost was appropriate.”