Friday, March 14, 2008

Preservation Postscript No. 2

During the arduous fight last fall and winter to save the Phila-delphia Life Insurance Co. buildings on Broad Street, state officials from the Department of General Services insisted - actually, they swore in a court of law - that the entire $700 million convention center expansion would be in financial jeopardy unless the state was allowed to tear down the two protected buildings. Failure to get rid of these historic nuisances, they claimed, would add $2.25 million a month to the already exorbitantly expensive project. Worse, the convention center might fail to open in time for several pre-booked conventions in 2011. So, DGS got its way. It tore down the buildings in January.

But guess what? As Dave Davies reports in today's Daily News, the convention center still hasn't gotten around to seeking construction bids. I suspect that foot-dragging will cost the project a whole lot more than two innocent historic buildings. Based on convention center own numbers, the cost is now up to $702.25 million.

It's interesting how all the problems with the convention center construction began when the Rendell Administration fired the convention center's long-time project manger, Perks Reutter Associates, and handed the project to DGS. At this point, as I reported in the Feb. 20 post below, the convention center doesn't even have facade approval from the city Art Commission.