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For Immediate release
November 2, 1997

Contractors say real cost of convention center is higher than WCCA estimates
Rep. Davis says size or design may have to be scaled back

The Washington Convention Center Authority may have underestimated the costs of building the proposed convention center at Mt. Vernon Square, according to major construction firms quoted in the Washington Business Journal this week.

"You have to think a lot of these guys who are making these estimates for the authority are sitting in an office somewhere. They're not out there [finding out the true costs]," according to one contractor.

If the cost of the center has been underestimated, D.C. may have to spend more money than is currently budgeted to build the convention center. The real cost of the project, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office, is $737 million.

But Rep. Tom Davis, speaking to the D.C. Republicans recently, said more escalation in the cost of a convention center would not be acceptable.

Alternatively, he said, the cost of the project could be reduced by building a smaller convention center. The current plan calls for a facility that would be 1 6th largest in the country, with no room to expand, according to industry experts in a recent national survey distributed by the Committee of 100 on the Federal City.

Finally, the design of the proposed center could be altered to save money, Davis said. But design changes would have to be approved by the National Capital Planning Commission, which agreed on a preliminary design for the building in September after months of delay.

The D.C. Council has decided not to consider street and alley closings for the proposed convention center tomorrow, as scheduled in the "Calendar of the Week," according to the office of Chair Linda Cropp.

For more information, call Beth Solomon, Shaw Coalition (202) 789-7864

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