Uncertain future for building projects

The future of Pierce College’s football stadium and the faculty offices north of the Mall is up in the air after the district’s Board of Trustees voted to terminate its contracts with the main contractor Feb. 22.

 

Four settlements with Irvine-based FTR International were terminated for convenience two weeks following the contractor’s debarment from the district for five years.

 

FTR headed the 14-year, $6 billion LACCD Building Program, which aimed to renovate academic buildings, sports complexes, and administrative buildings, among other structures, in the nine campuses in the district.

 

The debarment did not have any legal effects on FTR’s existing projects, but the contractor walked away from construction efforts for Shepard Stadium weeks prior to the termination of the contracts, according to Pierce Athletic Director Bob Lofrano.

 

“I’m very disappointed that they just walked off,” Lofrano said. “They’d been giving signs. Things were moving very slowly.”

 

FTR refused to comment on the issue.

 

“F T R, those are three letters I don’t want to think about anymore,” said Lofrano. “My goal is to remove the FTR sign [at the stadium construction zone]. That’ll be down pretty soon.”

 

The $8.9 million Shepard Stadium renovation project was originally supposed to be completed by Dec. 28, 2011.

 

However, late approval of the initial project drawings by the Division of the State Architect moved its completion date to February, said Ed Cadena, project deputy director for Swinerton Management Team.

 

Swinerton oversees all construction projects at Pierce.

 

The only stadium parts left undone by FTR are the walkway between the home and visitors’ sides, the restrooms on the visitors’ side, and the field house, said Lofrano.

 

“We’re 90 percent done,” said Lofrano. “We’re relatively confident that we can play this year.”

 

The North of Mall project, on the other hand, was shut down and repackaged late last year after the district suspended its contract with FTR in November for change order work, according to Cadena.

 

The termination of all contracts between FTR and LACCD finalizes this move.

 

“We recommended the termination [last year], but that doesn’t mean it was going to get done right away,” said Cadena. “The district will execute [the recommendation] when convenient.”

 

The decision to debar the contractor was brought upon by a recommendation made by a hearing committee comprised of two LACCD trustees based on findings that proved FTR to be an irresponsible contractor.

 

“This is the last step of the district taking action to debar [FTR],” said LACCD Inspector General Christine Marez over the phone.

 

The district alleged that FTR submitted fraudulent documents with regards to construction projects in both Los Angeles Mission College and the Los Angeles Valley College, and failed to adhere to building standards outlined in its contract with the latter campus.

 

“It always costs something to make the decision to terminate a contract,” said Goulet. “But it doesn’t make sense to keep it [if you know there are problems].”

 

The contractor has, in turn, filed a petition for writ of mandate against the district days after the debarment decision was finalized.

 

A hearing is scheduled for March 13, according to Goulet.

 

In the meantime, the district is allowed to hire a different construction company to complete unfinished work.

 

 

Links:

http://www.laccd-oig.org/

http://www.ftrintl.com/

http://www.laccd.edu/board_of_trustees/