The Downs Racino Construction Process…Is there one?
Governor Susana Martinez is responsible for giving final approval to the Downs at Albuquerque for the billion-dollar racino contract in December 2011.
Based on emails and other information unearthed by ISPAC, the Downs appeared to have a lock on the contract long before that.
Therefore, it would make sense that the construction process should have been sailing along by now. In fact, when demolition began this past March, the Downs reported to the media that the entire project would be completed before the end of this year.
Now we learn from Darren White, the security consultant/project manager/general manager of the Downs, that the project won’t be finished until the second quarter of 2013.
The Downs blamed Guzman Construction for the delay. But are they really the problem ?
Yesterday, ISPAC reviewed and copied all the permit applications, permits issued, and plans submitted by the Downs to the Construction Industries Division. CID is the agency responsible for issuing building permits for the project.
To date, there have only been three permits applications submitted — two for demolition (Permit # 2012005083-demolition of grand stand and office space; Permit # 2012012409-demolition of three maintenance structures) and one for the construction of the foundation only (Permit # 2012016509).
There is only one set of plans on file with CID which are clearly marked for Foundation only.
No full set of construction plans. No building permit.
Piecemeal is the best way to describe this approach.
Generally speaking, lenders are not very willing to finance a construction project without a complete set of plans.
The best way to ensure timely completion of a project is usually to submit the complete set of plans and apply for a full set of permits at one time. Any experienced project manager knows this. Why hasn’t this been done for the Downs racino project? .
The Downs folks recently asked to reduce the number of races during the current meet. They blame the economy for reduced casino revenue yet the Indian casinos—such as the ones operated by the other bidder, Laguna Development Corporation– seem to be doing just fine.
Has anyone from the state checked to see if the owners have secured financing for the project? The piecemeal approach to construction appears to indicate that no such funding exists.
If the Downs of Albuquerque does not have the money for their construction project, then perhaps the lease should be voided, the project be shut down, and a new RFP process begun.
Laguna had all the money needed for its more expensive remodel already in the bank, plus years of project management and casino construction experience, yet they lost the contract.
Governor Martinez and others involved in handing this potentially lucrative contract to the Downs are failing the taxpayers by not enforcing the Downs’ obligations.
The media have also failed in their responsibility to the public., They devoted massive amounts of coverage to alleged pay-to-play by former governor Bill Richardson, yet continue to ignore this blatant example of fraud and deception.