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Denver airport fires Great Hall construction partners

Denver International Airport has moved to terminate the $1.8 billion contract for its problem-plagued terminal renovation project, Denver International Airport CEO Kim Day confirmed Tuesday morning.

“This was not a decision arrived at lightly,” she said at an 11 a.m. press conference, noting that it followed months of negotiations and mediation. “We are very far apart on cost and schedule and our values,” including prioritizing safety and the needs of travelers.

The contractors — Great Hall Partners — have 90 days to transition out of the project and vacate the site, she said. The airport will select a new construction partner.

“We are going to take control,” Day said. “We are going to hire a contractor and oversee the build.”

The move, using a part of the public-private partnership contract that allows the airport to end the deal on its own whims, will be costly. But DIA has fought with Great Hall much of this year about the fallout from the airport’s own change orders as well as a problem with weak concrete that set back a significant portion of the project by several months.

The construction partners’ previous delay forecasts have pushed completion from late 2021 to as late as 2025, with cost overrun estimates running at more than $300 million.

Day said Tuesday the airport is confident the work can be finished earlier than that, and on Friday, the airport outright rejected Great Hall’s claim over the impact of the concrete issue. But Day was not ready to give a timeline estimate, beyond saying the new contracting process will carry its own delay.

The breakup could cost DIA upward of $200 million, including making Great Hall Partners whole for their investment and borrowing. Estimates are still being put together, DIA finance chief Gisela Shanahan said.

At mid-morning Tuesday, DIA filed a notification about the termination on a public bond-disclosure system. It says the termination – using the “for convenience” clause, rather than a “for cause” reason – will take effect Nov. 12.