Convention center construction months behind

With the Town Lake Centre in Beaumont falling months behind its anticipated completion date, the city is working to find a middle ground with the contractor to ensure the more than $8 million project is done with quality in mind.

The project was awarded to contracting company CF Jordan, based out of Houston, back in April 2010, and was expected to take less than a year to complete, with construction beginning in June of that year. Construction included building a convention center, great lawn and roadway repairs.

“It’s still under construction; still moving along,” said Brenda Beadle, Beaumont capital projects manager. The problem, Beadle said, is that a number of issues have arisen during construction that were not anticipated.

“They have had several things that have caused them problems,” she said, referring to CF Jordan falling behind. “At this point, there’s no one thing. They have several issues – design issues, construction materials, things that had to be redone – various issues that they’ve had to address.”

One such issue came up in November 2010 after the street was to be repaired. After construction began, the condition of the underlying pipelines was found to be beyond repair and had to be completely replaced.

Beadle also said some issues involved the construction not being built to the required specifications, so CF Jordan has had to go back and redo the work, or show city officials how it does come up to the specifications.

The project was supposed to be completed by June 25, according to Beadle.

“That was the last official notice as to when they would be complete. They gave us that; that’s their date. Since that time, they’ve come back and said – October, November, December – there’s been continuing issues. They have had problems. They have changed staff. But they’ve never formally come back with a response stating how many days are needed.”

The Examiner spoke with CF Jordan’s public relations’ representative, who relayed a response from CF Jordan Vice President Jay Taylor.

In response to questions regarding being put on notice by the city, as well as a new anticipated completion date, the response read, “Some of the details of the original design have been modified or revised. Nevertheless, CF Jordan remains focused on solutions and building a quality event center for the city of Beaumont.”

Beadle insists that’s the main focus for city officials – having a quality facility for Southeast Texans to utilize and to attract conventions to the area. But with the project falling five months behind its original completion date, a date that was given to city officials by CF Jordan, the city is taking steps to protect itself, as well as work to see the project is finished.

“The contractor is past their completion date,” said Beadle. “They have been placed on notice that they are past the due date, which the contract provided for damages.”

The damages, which have not been assessed as of yet, come to the amount of $1,000 per day each day past the projected completion date.

“It just means that they gave us a date; they failed to meet that date, so we put them on notice. That way if there’s any problems and they can’t complete construction – it’s to protect ourselves legally. It doesn’t mean we’ve taken any money; it’s just a requirement of the contract.”

Beadle said the city plans to negotiate with the contractor with regards to assessing the damages, of which an outcome cannot yet be predicted.“They are still hopefully going to wind it up in the next couple months,” she said. Until negotiations take place and a timeline is given to Beaumont officials, they are taking precautionary steps with moving around bookings that have already been made for the event center.

“We had started booking for 2012,” said Beadle. “We’ve notified (patrons) that they needed a back up plan, and we definitely moved people who had booked in January and February.”

Though the outlook for completion is still in question, Beadle said the city’s hope is to remain as amicable as possible with the contractor.

“They have had some issues, I will agree to that,” she said. “But legally, they have not responded as they probably could have and maybe gotten more information to us. We do want a quality facility – that’s of the utmost importance. We want it built to where there’s no maintenance issues to tend to. We would rather catch issues now, rather than later. …We don’t want to create any hard feelings (with the contractor) because we are trying to work with them.”