WILMINGTON — Wilmington’s $20 million-plus North Waterfront Park is once again facing delays as the city attempts to cut costs to keep the ambitious project within budget by sending several construction projects out for re-bid.
The park was supposed to open sometime in 2020 but now that timeline is looking like sometime in 2021.
“The current delay is due to the process of rebidding some of the bid packages and value engineering (working with some of the some of the low bids on identifying cost savings). This is all related to construction costs coming in over budget. The great economy and all of the construction activity in Wilmington is driving up construction costs,” Director of Community Services Amy Beatty said. “The construction timeline is 15 to 18 months. Our target is to be mobilized and in the ground by the end of October.”
Of course, Hurricane Florence did not help either, the storm and recovery delayed the project but have also driven up costs, she said.
“Hurricane Florence recovery is contributing to that. It’s difficult to find subcontractors who have the availability to take on new work because they are all so busy. That makes the bids less competitive, thus costs go up. If we were in a different economic climate and the storm had not happened, there would be less work and more competition resulting in lower costs,” Beatty said.
The city’s construction company in charge of the project, Clancy & Theys, has listed several re-bids for subcontractors to submit including: Sewer relocation; concrete; structural steel; roofing; waterproofing; glass canopy; fountains; landscaping.
When asked if the city believes it will get any better offers than what it previously received, Beatty said there is no way of knowing but there has been interest from additional subcontractors.
The additional delay and the increased cost that the park has seen over the past few years begs the question if the delay will actually increase the cost of construction, but Beatty said she does not think so.
“If anything costs would go down as this amount of economic growth can’t last forever. However, we committed to the public we would get this project done. We also owe it to Live Nation, our performance venue manager to commit to getting the project done,” she said.
The city has gotten creative in an effort to raise funds to help bring the park up to par with a higher-end park.
“In October 2018, the Wilmington City Council approved a sponsorship policy that will be utilized to generate private investment in the park. At least $3 to $4 million in additional funding is needed to build/include everything in the higher cost design,” according to the city’s website.
But according to Beatty, all of the sponsorship agreements are still in negotiations so she is unable to comment on how much the city has raised so far.
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