After facing legal challenges to its initial choice, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center said a selection committee tasked with choosing a contractor for its $ 557 million upgrade project will meet again on Monday. to try to figure out how to move forward.
The New Orleans Convention Center’s five-person selection committee voted last month to award the contract – the largest upgrade project in the history of the 37-year building – to a consortium led by the contractor based in Indianapolis AECOM Hunt and local builder Broadmoor. But the two losing groups objected that the selection process was marred by violations of Louisiana’s open meeting law and that a panel member’s voting patterns indicated a bias for Broadmoor.
Losing competitors contested the prize for the biggest facelift in the building’s 37-year history
The Convention Center’s board of commissioners now face a delicate dilemma as it attempts to finalize the procurement process on a project to modernize the huge building. Already, it has spent about $ 112 million on a linear park that spans 11 blocks of its Convention Center Boulevard frontage and as a new transportation hub and information technology upgrades.
That leaves most of the money to spend on modernizing much of the interior of the Convention Center, adding new audiovisual capabilities and building a new all-glass addition that will offer spectacular views of the Mississippi River.
The project is part of a larger development that will cost approximately $ 1.5 billion and will include the erection from the ground up of a new entertainment-focused neighborhood and ‘headquarters’ hotel on nearly 50 acres. undeveloped upstream from the convention center. Along with the other upgrades, this makes it one of the most expensive sets of contracts ever awarded by a government agency in New Orleans.
The Louisiana attorney general’s office informed the Convention Center on Aug. 10 that its initial choice for the project likely did not comply with the open meeting law. The bureau advised Congress Center officials not to pursue AECOM-Broadmoor, in order to avoid prosecution.
The centre’s board was reluctant to select AECOM Hunt and Broadmoor after complaints from competitors.
On Monday, the selection committee will meet again and hear 15-minute presentations from each of the three competing consortia. He will then decide whether he should “ratify, annul or reconsider in another way” his July choice of AECOM-Broadmoor. Convention Center attorney David Phelps told the board on August 12 that he will likely face legal challenges no matter which path he chooses at this point.
Losing Groups Plan to Argue Monday Selection Process Must Start All Over With New Selection Board, According To Copies Of Their Letters Obtained By The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans lawyer. The focus of the complaints appears to lie primarily on a panel member, Hilary Landry, and her voting habits as well as her alleged ties to Broadmoor.
Landry said her ties to Broadmoor were tenuous at best and her rating of the three proposals simply reflected what she believed to be their merits.
At stake is who will build the most comprehensive improvements in the history of a 37-year-old building.
“I think it’s best for me to refrain from commenting until we meet on Monday,” Landry said on Friday. “However, in my role as a volunteer appointed to this panel, my goal is and will be to recommend a contractor who serves the best interests of taxpayers.”
The losing group comprising Metro Service Group, The Lemoine Co. and McDonnel Construction said in its letter that it had obtained new information to support its claim that Landry was biased towards Broadmoor. The letter alleges that Landry, in his role as a member of the Louisiana Stadiums and Exhibitions Commission, known as the Superdome Commission, had been the liaison between the commission and Broadmoor when negotiating millions of dollars in contracts . He says she signed some of those contracts in July, the same month she voted in favor of the Broadmoor consortium for the Convention Center contract.
Landry said she had no decision-making role over Superdome commission contracts and no direct or indirect benefit from her role on the commission.
The other losing group, comprising developer Woodward Design + Build, Landis, VPG, GH Mechanical and CDW, also focused primarily on Landry, saying his role on the Superdome commission “is to conduct business with Broadmoor. .… Obviously, Ms. Landry has a current and continuing business relationship with Broadmoor. “
Both losing groups indicated that Landry’s score was evidence of suspected bias. The scoring allowed each of the five selection board members to award up to 10 in various categories, including the perceived competence of competing consortia and the involvement of disadvantaged business enterprises, including black-owned enterprises. and women.
Landry’s overall score of the finalists’ proposals was within 2.2 points of his fellow panelists for AECOM-Broadmoor. But it was 15.4 and 16.6 points lower for the other two. This discrepancy was sufficient to give AECOM-Broadmoor the high overall score when compiling the votes of all panelists.
The two losing groups were particularly opposed to scoring for minority participation. Landry awarded 10 points to AECOM-Broadmoor, which had no minority stake. She awarded seven points to the Woodward-led group, which included 15% black-owned businesses and 32% female-owned equity partners, all based in New Orleans.
The Metro Services group got a score of 5 from Landry, although Metro is owned by a black man, Jimmie Woods. In its letter, this group also reiterated a complaint filed by Woods that the AECOM-Broadmoor group, in its winning presentation, had repeatedly implied that Metro was part of the AECOM-Broadmoor consortium.
“Due to these material misrepresentations in its proposal, we are requesting the disqualification of the AECOM-Broadmoor joint venture,” said the letter from Metro-Lemoine.