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Cost overruns hit proposed convention center:
Citizens ask for true accounting of what will be cut
May 18, 1998

The proposed convention center at Mt. Vernon Square is already more than $80 million over budget before one shovel is in the ground and cannot be built as planned for $650 million, according to sources close to the project quoted in the Washington Business Journal (May 15-21, p. 3).

The sources said the construction team selected to build the new center submitted an estimate that is $80 million over the project’s $490 million construction budget. Associated costs could push the overruns even higher.

“That means significant design and construction changes are likely for the project,” according to the article.

The Shaw Coalition of civic organizations is calling on the Washington Convention Center Authority for a true and complete accounting of what will be cut from the project if it goes forward. WCCA architects cannot make major changes in the design of the building, according to requirements set by the National Capital Planning Commission, which has not given final approval to the project.

Critics pointed out that the reason the project is so expensive is the decision to build underground at the tiny 17-acre Mt. Vernon site, requiring massive excavation.

“If they cut the size or program again, we are buying a pig in a poke,” said Beth Solomon, a member of the Shaw Coalition. “It doesnąt make sense to build an inferior convention center when we have a larger, better, cheaper site just 8 blocks away at Union Station.”

The prestigious Committee of 100 on the Federal City will release a report this week that predicted the early cost overrun, almost to the dollar.

For more information, call the Shaw Coalition at (202) 789-7864.

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