Convention centre expansion to cost almost $10 M more than estimated

Tender awarded to Quebec company Pomerleau Inc.

Published on April 2, 2013

The City of St. John’s has awarded the main construction tender for the expansion of the St. John’s Convention Centre.

Pomerleau Inc., a company headquartered in Quebec, submitted the lowest bid amongst four received by the city, at $52.7 million. When first announced by the city in August 2011, the expansion had an estimated cost of $43.2 million.

Both the federal and provincial governments are each set to kick in $15 million for the project. While the tender awarded may exceed the initially announced figure by $9.5 million, Coun. Sandy Hickman says taxpayers will not be burdened by its cost.

The city’s $22.7-million share will be covered by an accommodation tax of four per cent that is applied to every hotel room in

St. John’s.

“The taxpayer of St. John’s will not be paying for the expansion of this building — that’s very critical to point out,” said Hickman, who is city council’s liaison on the convention centre project committee.

“This flexibility has allowed us to take a larger expansion than we may have, and indeed take care of some rising costs that have happened, naturally, over the last couple of years.”

Council voted unanimously to approve the tender at Monday’s public meeting.

Several properties have since been purchased and torn down in anticipation of construction work on the expansion.

Hickman said the full cost of the project — including design, demolition, street realignment and land acquisition — should fall in the range of $60 million to $62 million. That means the city’s full share

of the project will exceed $30 million.

According to Hickman, work should commence soon on the construction phase.

A tentative date for the completion of work to expand the convention centre is scheduled for December 2015, and Hickman said the site should be ready to host events the following spring.

The city is hoping increased capacity at the convention centre will enable St. John’s to attract larger events. It will have an overhead walkway connecting the site to the Delta Hotel, and 1,300 people will be able to dine in a new main ballroom. A junior ballroom will acc-ommodate 400 people.

At present, the site can handle conventions with 400 to 600 attendees.

The city says the expanded centre will have the capacity to host conventions with 600 to 800 guests.

“It will certainly work well for hosting a large convention or even two smaller conventions at the same time,” said Hickman.

The current convention centre is scheduled to close in the fall of 2014 to accommodate further construction.

Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay noted there are a number of hotel projects in the city at various stages of development. He said those endeavours will help support the expansion of the convention centre.

“I’m very pleased to see this very significant development,” he said.

According to a news release issued by the city on Monday, the St. John’s Convention Centre generates $35-40 million in annual revenue.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew