CLEARWATER - During Tuesday's "Hard Hat" meeting on Beach Walk construction, the City disclosed what many observers have already assumed; the 3½-year project is already behind schedule only 3 months into construction.
To date, most of the construction effort has been on 3rd and 5th Streets; Coronado Drive has hardly been touched. Gunnar Hedqwist, proprietor of the Sunrise Resort Motel that is bordered by 3rd Street observed, "3rd was supposed to take four weeks, but its been eight or nine weeks now." He asked, "Are we behind schedule?"
Perry Lopez, Clearwater's Construction Manager, responded, "We are actually falling behind." He explained that most of the delay is attributable to the relocation of private utilities, naming Progress Energy as one, and said that the City and Westra, the construction contractor, were developing a recovery plan.
But Lopez did not create any expectations on how much catch-up was feasible or how far behind schedule the project actually is. Lopez did state that the planned completion date for construction Phase 1 is January 17, 2007, and that there is a penalty clause in the contract if construction is not completed by that date.
Lopez also revealed that the relocation of part of Gulfview Blvd. through a beachfront parking lot has been delayed. The relocation, which will eliminate about 70 parking spaces, was planned to accommodate the construction of the Hyatt Aqualea resort. Asked when the Gulfview relocation will happen, Lopez responded, "We don't know when it's been moved to."
Lopez' comment reinforced speculation that the Hyatt project was in trouble. Despite months of pre-sales activity, permits for the project have not yet been applied for, and the construction site has seen no activity since the land was cleared.
Attending the "Hard Hat" meeting was City Council member Hoyt Hamilton. Regarding the next phase of Beach Walk construction, whose financing relies on a contribution by the Hyatt, Hamilton said, "I'm not moving one piece of asphalt (on Gulfview) until permits have been pulled and construction starts coming out of the ground."
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