The developers of a major new convention center in downtown Seattle, Washington State, shocked the main contractors on the $1.4bn scheme by cancelling their contracts on Friday, 4 March.
The new facility was to have been built by a joint venture between the US arm of Swedish contractor Skanska and Hunt Construction Group, a subsidiary of Aecom, but the project team leading the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) Addition project said Friday that "they are not the right fit for this project".
Skanska, who with Hunt was selected in June 2015, has called the decision "shocking and tremendously disappointing".
We have operated in a professional manner consistent with our corporate values and in the best interest of Washington State taxpayers who will ultimately fund this $1.4bn project– Skanska
The WSCC expansion team released a statement on its website saying it would now look to retender the main contractor’s role.
Matt Griffin, the managing partner of Pine Street Group, the development manager for the project, said: "We’ve worked with the contractor for more than six months and have determined they are not the right fit for this project. We will extend the schematic design process and then restart the contractor selection process to find the best fit and value for WSCC’s investment."
The statement said that the project team anticipated that the overall schedule would not be materially affected by this change, and that they would re-issue a request for quotes "within the next couple months".
It added that the project team would honour existing construction subcontractor agreements and retain firms already under contract.
The Business Journal reported that Skanska described the board’s decision "shocking and tremendously disappointing".
It said: "We have operated in a professional manner consistent with our corporate values and in the best interest of Washington State taxpayers who will ultimately fund this $1.4bn project. The services, which we have provided are consistent with the manner in which we have delivered similar projects for the cities of San Francisco, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Jose, Seattle and others over the past decade."
The planned addition, designed by Seattle-based LMN Architects, is a separate building close to the existing centre in Seattle. It will be five storeys tall, and contain 41,000 square metres of exhibition space, making it slightly larger than the existing facility.
Developers say it will generate about $240m a year in new business, create 2,300 jobs in hospitality, hotels, restaurants, retail and related businesses. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2017 and to complete in 2020.
Photograph: Artist’s render of the planned addition to the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle (LMN Architects)