Two years after settling into its new city hall, Miami Gardens has approved a settlement agreement under which the project’s designers will pay the city millions of dollars because of cost overruns for the municipal complex.
The City Council approved a settlement agreement Wednesday of a lawsuit between Skanska USA, the construction contractor; URS, the project’s designers; and the city. URS will pay the city and Skanska $5 million, of which Miami Gardens will receive $3.5 million. Additionally, the city will keep about $1 million that remained in the project budget.
Although paperwork must be filed in court before the lawsuit is formally closed, all the parties have agreed to the settlement.
City Manager Cameron Benson said that sum of about $4.5 million will help in paying off $6 million in cost overruns that were caused by architectural and design issues as the complex was built and the cost of installing photovoltaic panels. Benson said that the remaining $1.5 million in overruns has been accounted for in this year’s budget.
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“This building is no longer in litigation, it’s no longer in limbo and it belongs to the city of Miami Gardens,” Benson said.
The settlement mostly wraps up the long and divisive development of the municipal complex, which broke ground in July 2012 and was expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Construction on the $55 million project was halted in May and again in July 2013 due to several issues. Among them: An inspector said he saw cracks in some of the structure’s support beams.
Disputes between URS — which has since been acquired by AECOM — the city and Skanska over the building’s design also caused delays.
The city and Skanska eventually reached a joint prosecution agreement in June 2014 and the parties filed a lawsuit in July 2015 against URS and the project’s structural engineer, Mark Zimpelman. They alleged that URS made errors and omitted information that led to delays and increased costs. URS responded by denying those allegations and placing the blame on Skanska, which led to the settlement agreement.
“I wish it could have been resolved in another way, but it is resolved,” Benson said.
Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the project’s designers, URS, will pay the costs of the settlement. A previous version stated that the construction contractor, Skanska USA, would pay the costs.