Convention Center Completion Pushed Back to October

City Center

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

Convention Center Completion Pushed Back to October:

But shows will go on

The completion of the Miami Beach Convention Center has been pushed back until October though according to the City’s Project Manager Maria Hernandez, the shows will go on. The building had been expected to be completed this month but challenges of the very large and complex project mean it will take another two months to put the finishing touches on.  
During two and a half years of construction, the Convention Center has continued to host shows at various points, an unusual situation for any construction project let alone one this large. (The building contains 1,450,000 sq. ft.) The desire to keep business in Miami Beach – and, indeed recognizing the importance of Art Basel – prompted the former City Commission to seek a blended construction and show schedule, something “that has really dictated the whole execution of the project,” Hernandez told us.
In fact, the building has hosted 39 shows during that time, most of which utilized two halls, allowing work to continue in the other half of the building. But the two Art Basel events required the full use of the premises, meaning all construction had to stop and all areas adapted to host a world class art event in the middle of a construction zone all the while ensuring the safety of convention goers and event visitors.  
“The last ten percent is the hardest,” Hernandes said, “for a lot of reasons, but mostly because we have a lot of finishes now and the finishes are what everybody sees.” From the metal ceilings in the West Concourse that are being installed with “white gloves” to the high tech, state of the art audio visual systems, specialty lighting, and security systems, a lot of care is needed and that takes time, she said. “The last ten percent is what takes the longest because if you rush too much then you damage the work so that’s the dilemma we’re in.”
City Manager Jimmy Morales sent a Letter to Commission this past week notifying them of the delay citing “unforeseen delays to the Level 4 rooftop ballroom (Sunset Vista Ballroom) as well as the level 4 pre-function space.” He noted the Construction Manager (CM), Clark, has given the City a new date of October 16th for “substantial completion.”
Hernandez described the Sunset Vista ballroom as the “VIP ballroom that’s on the roof, like a little jewelry box on top of the building. It has things that aren’t in any other room of the building” and requires a lot of fine finish work. 
“The first event to occupy the entire building since before construction commenced in December 2015 will be the [American Health Management Systems Association] AHIMA Convention scheduled for September 23-26,” Morales wrote. “This event will be followed by four additional full building events including Art Basel (December 5-9) and some smaller single hall events occurring concurrently with the four-hall events.”
“The CM presented a Schedule Recovery Plan to the City, confirming which areas would be ready for occupancy by the AHIMA event, and to show event planners the proposed condition of each of the spaces in order to plan any mitigation efforts with temporary measures,” according to Morales. “Clark has assured the City that the AHIMA show will open on September 23rd as planned.”

Hernandez said “Most of the spaces that [AHIMA] want[s] totally finished” will be available. “There may be some that we can’t finish them to the point they’re perfect” but they will be ready.
“We have a lot of shows coming and the contractor’s trying to get as much done as possible so that they have as little to execute during those shows as possible,” she told us. “Right now, the contractor has the building totally taken over… [but then the] shows take over and the contractor has to work in between shows. That’s how it’s going to get executed until the end. Clark has promised October 16. This is the time that they’ve said they need.”
Meanwhile, she said, Convention Center manager, Spectra “is really good at accommodating the shows. They’ve done it for Art Basel and other ones.” When floors are without carpet, they add temporary carpet and “make the room really nice [so] the meeting can happen. It’s not going to be perfect but it’s going to be totally functional,” Hernandez said. “We’re all excited about AHIMA.”
Morales noted in his letter, “The City continues to hold $21 million in retainage from amounts owed to the CM to assure that it can secure the correction of any defective or non-conforming work or to protect against any pending or imminent claims on the Project. The City is also entitled under the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) contract to liquidated damages for any delays, as well as consequential damages for any expenses incurred by the City thereby. The City is in active discussions with the CM to resolve any issues and achieve completion of the project.”

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