Construction Team Squeezes $50 Million out of Convention Center Budget

Architects and contractors planning for a new downtown convention center have trimmed $50 million out of the project, lowering the total price tag to $585 million.

The reductions come at the request of Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. Project manager Larry Atema says the savings are a combination of lower prices for materials and so-called “value engineering.”

“We had a particular stone that the architect selected for the exterior of the building that was going to cost $50 a square foot. Could we find a $25 a square foot stone that would look the same and function the same? We went through 100 items like that.”

Thursday, Atema presented the budget in broad strokes to the new Convention Center Authority, which will sign off on the spending plan before sending it to the Metro Council. But first, the authority has to find out if revenues from tourist taxes will support the debt proposed to pay for the project. A feasibility study from a consultant should be completed next week.

Atema says the reductions have been made with no significant impact on the building’s design or size. If the Metro Council approves financing for the project, Atema says contractors would be responsible for cost overruns.

Construction would take roughly three years and employ an estimated 3,000 workers over project’s lifecycle.

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