More delays are expected for Canalside, which means the $20 million project under way at the old Memorial Auditorium site probably won’t be finished until early 2014.
The original date for completion had been last Thanksgiving.
The latest development came Friday when a judge decided that a state agency could remove the general contractor for the Canalside project, DiPizio Construction Co.
State Supreme Court Judge Timothy J. Walker denied the preliminary injunction being sought by DiPizio, which would have halted the company from being removed by Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.
“We are hopeful that with this decision we will be able to proceed in a timely fashion on this important waterfront project,” said Sam Hoyt, regional president of the Empire State Development Corp. and a member of the Erie Canal Harbor board.
“Obviously, it’s unfortunate that we ran into these difficulties with our contractor,” Hoyt said Saturday, “but in the end we want to deliver a high-quality product and if that required terminating the general contractor in order to accomplish that, that’s what we chose to do.”
DiPizio Construction is still weighing whether to challenge the judge’s decision, but will continue to pursue a lawsuit seeking monetary damages, said Michael E. Ferdman, a partner with Hiscock & Barclay, the firm representing DiPizio.
Bernard DiPizio, president of DiPizio Construction, issued this statement: “In 37 years, my company has never been terminated from a job. This was unjustified and I fully expect to win the lawsuit against ECHDC as we aggressively continue this litigation.”
The historically aligned canal project on the old Aud site – which will include reflecting pools during the summer and skating rinks during the winter – had been targeted for completion last Thanksgiving.
DiPizio Construction was supposed to begin work in February 2012, but work was held up until May because of delays in state funding.
The completion date was moved to spring 2013.
The 300-day timetable to complete the project was interrupted due to winter weather between Dec. 1 and March 1, when the ground thawed and the air became warm enough to pour concrete.
The completion date was moved again to Nov. 1.
The state agency charged that deficient work has repeatedly delayed the project’s completion, while the company maintains it is being made a scapegoat because of the agency’s shortcomings.
Both sides argued their case during a preliminary hearing that lasted over several court days and concluded Friday with the judge’s decision.
As a result, the agency is able to bring on board a new general contractor, which will likely push back the project completion date to early 2014, according to sources familiar with the details.
While some DiPizio workers remain on the site, work has slowed considerably since the state agency sought to remove the company on May 8.
The company will be given a three-day notice to vacate the site, in which time a new general contractor will have to be selected.
That could take anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on whether the project needs to be rebid, sources said.