Skanska JV sues to block appointment of convention centre replacement

Skanska-Hunt, the former joint venture contractor for a $1.4bn expansion of the Washington State Convention Centre (WSCC) in Seattle, has begun legal action to prevent the client from appointing a replacement.

The team leading the WSCC Addition scheme announced at the beginning of March that the joint venture between the US arm of Swedish contractor Skanska and Hunt Construction Group, a subsidiary of Aecom, were "not the right fit for this project".

Skanska, who had been working on the job since June 2015, called the decision "shocking and tremendously disappointing". It added that there were no complaints about its work, and it was never told why it was let go.

The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, aims to stop convention centre officials from retendering the main contractor’s role.

Chris Toher, Skanska USA’s executive vice president, said in a statement that convention centre officials had violated their contractual obligations and should "take immediate steps to right this wrong" which was "contrary to the public’s interest on this important public project".

He added the joint venture’s proposal was $9.5m lower than the next bidder’s for the construction portion of the project, which is thought to be worth around $800m, according to a convention centre representative quoted in the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Matt Griffin of the Pine Street Group, which is the expansion’s project manager, told The Seattle Times that officials had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.

After he announced the decision, Griffin indicated that he was not worried about getting sued. He said: "We’ve clearly had good counsel as we’ve taken these steps."

Last week, Griffin said he hoped to begin the retendering process for a main contractor in the next 30 to 60 days.

The Skanska-Hunt team said Pine Street had repeatedly refused requests for meetings to discuss the firing.

The $1.4bn expansion is expected to double the capacity of the centre.

Construction was to have started next year and to have been complete by 2020.

Image: LMN Architects’ rendering of their design for the expansion (LMN Architects)

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