Completion of Nashville’s Cumberland Park — the first piece of the Cumberland River redevelopment project on the East Bank — is months behind schedule, which could force its general contractor to contractually pay Metro $500 in liquidation damages each day construction lingers.
The penalty would go toward covering additional expenditures that accumulate with the delay. For now, project leaders say its construction isn’t over budget.
But Stan Hardaway, president of Nashville-based Hardaway Construction Corp., contracted to build the park, said his company has asked for an extension for the project and believes it should be granted because delays were caused by several factors outside its control.
“I think it’s imprudent to be throwing out that any liquidation damages would be charged because that may not be the case,” Hardaway said, referring to the requested extension.
“It’s a very unique design,” he said. “It’s something totally different than even the city or architect has done before.”
The Metro Development and Housing Agency, which is overseeing the project, had originally targeted a June 30 opening for the new park, sandwiched between the Shelby Street Pedestrian and Korean War Veterans Memorial bridges on the East Bank of the Cumberland River. Construction initiated in October 2010.
The park, which citizens recently dubbed “Cumberland Park,” is to include several water features and emphasize ecology. San Francisco-based Hargreaves Associates designed the green space.
MDHA’s contract with Hardaway Construction originally outlined a June 30 completion deadline. The company received a 33-day extension, but that passed Aug. 2.
Contractors tasked with constructing the park have run into several complications, according to MDHA officials. Now project leaders say an October opening is more likely.
Ed Owens, the agency’s waterfront redevelopment director, said a rainy winter and spring slowed things down from the outset. Complicating matters further, he said everything in the new park is custom-made. In addition, he said the park’s 7.5 acres sit on a brownfield; hence, environmental concerns must be addressed at every turn.
“Quality, integrity and attention to detail have always been a higher priority than expedience,” Owens said. “All of it is a very customized design, and sometimes it just takes more time than anticipated originally.”
But MDHA is also pinning the responsibility for the delay on Hardaway Construction; as such, the agency has opted to impose $500 in daily liquidated damages.
“They are ultimately responsible for bringing the project in on time,” Owens said. “No question about it.”
Owens said Hardaway Construction would pay the liquidated damages in full after the project is completed.
Though Hardaway, the company’s president, said he plans to ask for an extension, MDHA spokeswoman Julie Oaks said that the agency ultimately would decide whether to grant one.
Owens said the water-centric green space is still within its $12.3 million budget, which is carved out of the $29 million total budget for Phase 1 of the comprehensive riverfront redevelopment project. To date, he said $4.7 million has gone toward the park, acknowledging most expenditures would come at the tail end of the civic space’s completion.
Dollars for the riverfront redevelopment undertaking originated from Mayor Karl Dean’s 2009-10 capital spending plan.
Meanwhile, MDHA officials say renovation of the riverfront’s NABRICO building (now called the Bridge Building) is one month from completion. Officials hope the building will be certified LEED platinum.
MDHA recently issued a request for proposals in search of a developer to complete the building’s interior. The Metro Parks and Recreation Department will operate an office in the vintage structure.