Friday, December 4, 2009

Fox Theater Contractors Owed $5.1 Million

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 4, 2009 at 10:23 AM

It looks as if the triple-management structure of the newly restored Fox Theater may not have been such a good idea after all. The theater in Oakland’s Uptown district still owes construction contractors who did the dazzling refurbishment at least $5.1 million, the Trib reports. It’s not clear whether the unpaid bills were caused by unexpected funding shortages, lax management, or an opulent and unaffordable renovation — or a combination of all three.

At an Oakland City Council meeting earlier this week, President Jane Brunner pointed to possible management problems, saying, “there’s a sense that nobody is watching the store.” The renovation project was managed by Oakland developer Phil Tagami, Turner Construction Company, and city staffers.

But Patrick Lane, the project manager for the city, said that various state and federal grants that they were depending on have failed to materialize. As a result, the project funding has come up short. Lane and city staff have requested the council to loan the project $2 million so it can begin paying the contractors what they’re owed. But a council committee postponed the issue.

There’s also no doubt that the Fox restoration has turned out to be a lot more expensive than originally imagined. It started out as a $33 million estimate, but it has now ballooned to $89 million. And while the restoration was done in exquisite fashion, it raises questions as to whether it was more expensive than the city could afford.

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