Public-Private Partnership Policy Casebook/Denver Airport Great Hall

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This case reviews the features of Denver Airport Great Hall Project. It is the collaborative work of Gentian Liko, Sid Rayaprolu, and Zongnan Wu, graduate students at George Mason University. The following casebook explores the key actors, project characteristics, policy challenges, and history associated with Denver Airport Great Hall Project. It was produced as an assignment for George Mason University's Public-Private Partnership graduate course, taught by Dr. Jonathan Gifford.

Summary[edit]

The Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA), signed shortly after the 9/11 attacks, restructured the security requirements of all domestic and international airports across the United States, with a strict implementation of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints. Inaugurated in the year 1995, the Denver International Airport (DEN) has become the 6th busiest airport in the country by 2017, connecting over 185 nonstop destinations and 23 international cities in 9 other countries [1]. Designed to accommodate annual passenger traffic of 50 million, the airport has served 64.5 million passengers by 2018, and is expected to encounter 110 million passengers by 2040 [2]. When the airport opened in 1995, 60% of the passengers connected through DEN. Today, nearly 65% originate from DEN and only 35% connect and that puts much more stress on the terminal facility than ever anticipated [3]. Having observed its vulnerable TSA checkpoint locations and the need for 30 additional gates due to burgeoning passenger traffic, DEN prioritized its future plans to upscale the terminal and TSA facility.

In early 2015, Denver announced the renovation project, noting that moving the TSA security check to a less exposed location was the airport’s highest priority. Part of the plan developed is making way for new restaurants, increasing check-in counters from 169 to 176 and most importantly changing security, by moving it up a floor and enclosing it. [4] The airport narrowed the list of potential contractors down to three — Ferrovial (a Spanish infrastructure giant), Westfield Airports and Den Transformation Team. By June of 2016, Ferrovial was picked for the job.

An independent evaluation panel, along with 4 other committees selected Ferrovial and its partners, including Colorado-based Saunders Construction, as the best contractor for the job, with Ferrovial outscoring the other two competitor bidders.[5] The project was considered to be the City’s first public-private partnership, led by a consortium made up of Ferrovial Airports, JLC Infrastructure and Saunders Concessions. The construction and refurbishment work of the Denver Airport Great Hall Project was agreed be carried out by Ferrovial Agroman and Saunders Construction.

The Great Hall Project was expected to create 400-450 construction jobs, more than 800 permanent jobs and generate an additional $3.5 million in annual taxes and general fund revenue for the City of Denver. This project would create a safer, more efficient and modernized Great Hall that serves as a warm welcome to Denver, keeps up with increasing demand, and leaves a lasting impression on all passengers and visitors.

This $1.8 billion project with 34 years contract (including 4 years of development phase) has an anticipated cost of $650-$770 million for the design and construction. The total investment was financed by a combination of governmental payments, equity committed by the consortium partners, and the bond issue completed in December 2017. The equity provided by the consortium amounts to 73 million dollars, while the bond principal amounts to 189 million dollars. The bond was rated BBB by Fitch and BBB- by S&P with an average yield to maturity of 4.083% [6]. Great Hall Partners made an initial investment of $258 million that will be repaid over time through a combination of installments from the airport and a 20 percent share of the concession revenues from new shops and restaurants. DEN will also reimburse Great Hall Partners for operating and maintenance costs over the 30 years.[7]

The project was planned to be executed in four phases, starting July 11th, 2018. In less than 9 months, GHP spurred controversies through their project update on April 2019, with estimated delays up to 3 years (932 Calendar days) [8]. The later analysis by CBS4 indicated whopping 4 year delays with an estimated cost overruns of $300 million.[9] In the August of 2019, DEA moved ahead to terminate the contract with GHP as a result of substantial delays. GHP however claimed that the discovery of weak concrete from past construction, and intermediate design alterations are the primary reasons for overall delay.[10]

According to the updated schedule, DEA is expecting the GHP to completely disengage from the project by November 2019, clearing the path for the anticipated new developers, Stantec (design) and Hensel Phelps (construction management for Phase 1).[11] DEN is hopeful that the overall budget of the project will remain to be $770 million, which included $120 million of contingency funds.

Annotated List of Actors[edit]

Public Entities/Figures[edit]

Denver International Airport (DEN)
The City and County of Denver owns and operates Denver International Airport. Under the city charter, the management, operation and control of Denver International Airport is delegated to the city’s Department of Aviation. The Manager of the Department of Aviation is appointed by and reports directly to the Mayor of Denver.[12]

Mayor Michael Hancock
Mayor Hancock held firm in his support of P3 partnership and the theoretical promise it offers — minimized risk for the government side in a project, the use of private capital instead of or in addition to public debt, and a set price for the work. [13]

Legal Advisors
Nossaman LLP and KPMG are the legal advisors of DEN in the Great Hall project.[14]

DBFOM Team[edit]

Great Hall Partners is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that includes Ferrovial Airports (80%), Saunders Construction (1%) and JLC Infrastructure (19%) that signed a Development Agreement with Denver International Airport (DEN) for the redevelopment of the Jeppesen Terminal. As part of the project, Great Hall Partners will operate and maintain the new commercial area within the Great Hall located both “airside” and “landside”. [15]

Equity partners

  • Ferrovial Airports International (
  • Saunders Construction
  • JLC Infrastructure

Ferrovial Airports International is part of Ferrovial, S.A., a Spanish multinational company, founded in 1952, involved in the design, construction, financing, operation (DBFO) and maintenance of transport infrastructure and urban services. Ferrovial Airports International is one of the main private airport investors and operators in the world. It currently has four airports in the United Kingdom: Heathrow, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton. [16]

JLC/Saunders joint venture is an investment fund created by Loop Capital and Magic Johnson Enterprises. [17]

Design & Build Team
Great Hall Builders is the Design & Build team, created by the partnership between Ferrovial Agroman West and Saunders Construction. Great Hall Builders is responsible for the design and construction of the Great Hall Renovation. [15]

Luis Vidal + Architects, Harrison Kornberg Architects and Anderson Mason Dale are the project architects. Other local engineers and contractors include Intermountain Electric, Civil Technology, Gilmore Construction, Sky Blue Builders, and Burgess Services. [18]

Advisors[14]

  • Equity Partners Legal Advisors: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
  • Financial Advisor: Citibank

Timeline of Events[edit]

  • Early 2015: Competitive procurement process for qualified private partners initiated by DEN [19]
  • June 2016: Denver Airport enters in exclusive negotiations with Great Hall Partners [18]
  • August 2016: The pre-development contract was presented to the Denver City Council for approval [20]
  • August 24, 2017: 34-year concession agreement signed between DEN and GHP [18]
  • December 21, 2017: The Public Finance Authority issued $189.1 million on behalf of the SPV, Denver Great Hall, to partly finance the project [21]
  • May 2018: GHP blames “the multitude of Owner Changes being issued on the project” for the delays [22]
  • July 2018: Start of the modernization project construction [18]
  • August 2018: Denver closed on $2.53 billion of revenue bonds rated A2 by Moody’s Investors Service, A by S&P Global Ratings and A-plus by Fitch Ratings. [21]
  • December 2018: The project reached financial close by a combination of governmental payments [21]
  • February 18, 2019: Reported that the concrete in the Jeppesen terminal is substantially below design strength, deteriorating, or unsuitable from a structural perspective for the planned project [23]
  • April 14, 2019: GHP stated that the project is 18 months behind schedule. [23]
  • May 3, 2019: DEN addresses Owner’s concerns regarding phase 1 work progress [23]
  • late June 2019: Short-lived mediation started between DEN & GHP [24]
  • August 12, 2019: Great Hall Partners LLC received a formal written notice of Termination for Convenience from the City and County of Denver (the Owner) notifying the GHP’s that it has elected to exercise its discretionary right to terminate the contract in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Development Agreement with effect 12 November 2019 [25]
  • Aug. 13, 2019: Denver International Airport CEO, Kim Day addresses DEN’s decision to terminate the terminal project contract at a news conference [26]
  • September 13, 2019: DEN held an open house for certified businesses to meet the design professional services companies that are proposing to finish Phase I of the project: HOK Engineering, Gensler, and Stantec. [27]
  • 12 November 2019: Effective date for the GHP partnership termination [27]

Maps – Great Hall Project[edit]

Denver International Airport Great Hall Project[edit]

DEN Great Hall Maps[edit]

DEN Great Hall Project Rendering[edit]

Narrative of the Case[edit]

Project Procurement[edit]

DEN began a competitive procurement process for qualified private partners in 2015 for remodeling of the 22-year-old terminal to improve efficiency and keep up with passenger growth. Four teams to bid for a final request for proposals (RFP) for the project were identified, of which three (Ferrovial, Westfield Airports and Den Transformation Team) responded. The contract was awarded to Ferrovial by June of 2016. Led by Ferrovial, the pre-development contract includes contractors for the local, national and international companies. During the pre-development phase of the project, DEN negotiated with Ferrovial to define the terms and the scope of work. Upon reaching an agreement, the pre-development contract was presented to the Denver City Council for approval in 2016. [18]

Project Description[edit]

Part of the plan developed is making way for new restaurants, increasing check-in counters from 169 to 176 and most importantly changing security, by moving it up a floor and enclosing it.[28]

Airside Plaza

  • 37,000 square feet of commercial space
  • Several passenger experiences features making the space a unique and appealing environment
  • Conveying a modern western sense of place with the use of finishes and digital features

Meeters and Greeters Plaza

  • 19,500 square feet of commercial space
  • This space targets passengers, meeters and greeters, hotel guests and airport workers

Ticketing Lobby

  • 176 new ticketing desks
  • 224 self-service kiosks
  • 12 curbside desks

TSA Security Checkpoints

  • 34 security lanes

The Great Hall project presents an opportunity to offer an upscale and strongly differentiated choice of food and beverage, retail, and service outlets. The ultimate goal of the project is to keep Denver International Airport as one of the safest, most convenient airports in the world while creating a truly experiential environment – an environment that establishes Denver as a new benchmark in US airports from which others learn and seek to emulate. [29]

After the renovation, many of the new concessions’ spaces will be in a post-security screening section on the north side of the main floor, where passengers will pass through on their way down to the concourse trains. The project is expected to create up to 450 construction jobs and more than 800 permanent jobs. It will also annually generate $3.5m in taxes and General Fund revenues for the City of Denver.

Project Cost[edit]

The P3 contract for Denver Airport Great Hall was worth $1.8 billion, with the renovation accounting for $650 million excluding the $120 million contingency funds. [30]

Project Renovation Cost:

Description Project Amount (million)
Security Screening Area US$70
Airline Ticketing Space US$105
Terminal Operation Area and Public Circulation US$298
Concessions Area US$177
Subtotal – Great Hall Cost US$650
Owner’s Contingency US$120
Total US$770

The original construction (renovation) budget was estimated to be $650 million with more than 70% sourced by the airport progress payments, leaving only a modest amount needed for financing and equity contributions. [31] The estimated cost to design and build the project is up to $770 million, which also includes an airport controlled contingency of $120 million, in large unforeseen construction and design costs, potentially because of airline needs, DEN’s decisions, surprises lurking behind the walls or changes in airport regulatory requirements. [18] Great Hall Partners initially invested $258m in the project, which will be later recovered through installments from the airport and a 20% share of the concession revenues from new shops and restaurants.

Financial structure[edit]

Denver International Airport’s Great Hall (GHP) was the first major P3 project approved by Denver. The project approved by Denver city council in 2017. The airport secured a 34-year, $1.8 billion contracts with Great Hall Partners, led by Ferrovial Airports.[32] The $650 million-plus project is not being paid for with taxpayer dollars. Instead, it is paid for with airport profits, such as those from airline and parking fees. The project reached financial close in December 2018 financed by a combination of governmental payments, equity committed by the consortium partners, and a bond issue completed on 21 December 2017. The Public Finance Authority − a conduit issuer based in Wisconsin − issued $189.1 million on behalf of the SPV, Denver Great Hall, to partly finance the project with an average yield to maturity of 4.083%, callable before maturity. The average yield to call was 3.34%. The bonds for Great Hall Partners are tax-exempt. S&P Global Ratings assigned a ‘BBB-’ rating to Denver Great Hall LLC’s proposed $196.1 million Series 2017 senior secured revenue bonds maturing in September 2049. [33]

Funding structure[edit]

  • Public: 70% through airport progress payments (airline and parking fees)
  • Private: 30% through the combination of equity and debt (initially invested $258m)
  • Profit Sharing Ratio: DEN and Developer share in revenue (DEN – 80%, GHP – 20%)

Great Hall Partners initially invested $258m in the project, which will be later recovered through installments from the airport and a 20% share of the concession revenues from new shops and restaurants.[18] Over the 30 years of concession operation, DEN will pay GHP annually for capital repayment and an operations/maintenance reimbursement, totaling $1.2 billion. At the same time, DEN will receive 80% of revenue from the new concessions, while GHP reaps 20%.

Payment terms of the termination agreement with GHP are generally based on the following: GHP’s portion of the funding it contributed to the project, approximately 25% of the design and construction cost, contract breakage costs that are a result of GHP’s other contractual relationships and the lost return on investment based on the amount of equity it contributed to the project. [34] DEN will also reimburse GHP for any other outstanding incurred costs related to construction and design work completed to date, according to the statement.[34]

Institutional structure[edit]

After approving the Great Hall P3 development agreement, the city council hired independent consultants to determine how best to utilize P3s for future projects in Denver and has created a new city office to review projects that can benefit from a P3 structure.[35]

On December 21, 2017, the Great Hall Partners consortium achieved financial closure of the $1.8-billion contract for remodeling and commercial operation of the Jeppesen Terminal at Denver International Airport. Ferrovial Airports, with an 80% stake, is the majority partner of the consortium, alongside Saunders Construction and JLC (an investment fund created by Loop Capital and Magic Johnson Enterprises). The construction and refurbishment work, worth a total of $650 million, will be carried out by Ferrovial Agroman and Saunders Construction.[36] Other consortium members are Anderson Mason Dale, Harrison Kornberg Architects and Luis Vidal + Architects. [37]

The institutional structure of the Great Hall Project:

Great Hall Partners:

  • Contributes a combination of equity and debt
  • Designs and builds project
  • Assumes risk for price and schedule
  • Operates the concessions on levels 5 and 6

DEN Airport:

  • Pays for part of construction costs through our Capital fund
  • Splits the concession revenue 80% to DEN, 20% to Great Hall Partners
  • Reimburses Great Hall Partners for operations and maintenance costs for the operational period

Contract Type[edit]

According to a pre-sale report by S&P Global, On August 24th 2017, Denver Great Hall LLC, secured and signed the contract to design, build, finance, operate and maintain (DBFOM) a part of the Jeppesen terminal within DEN. While the construction was expected to last for four years, the consortium shall operate and maintain the facility for a 30-year period, during which the consortium is responsible for developing and managing a revamped concessions program and maintaining associated areas within the Terminal. [38]

Under a base case scenario, S&P Global estimated that about 88% of the project revenues to be received through availability payments from DEN and 20% of the concessions revenues [39] The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) was formed by Ferrovial-led companies, with Ferrovial Aeropuertos assuming 80% of the ownership, and the remaining 20% to be shared between Saunders Construction Inc (5%) and JLC (95%) through a joint venture partnership. [40]

Risk Matrix[edit]

Ferrovial Airports International would help take on that risk in exchange for operating the concessions after construction was complete. [41]

Risk allocation: [42]

Risk Type Risk Allocation
Public Shared Private
Land Availability, Access and Site Risk
x
Social Risk
x
x
Environmental Risk
x
x
Design Risk
x
Construction Risk
x
Variations Risk
x
Operating Risk
x
Demand Risk
x
Financial Market Risk
x
Strategic or Partnering Risk
x
Disruptive Technology Risk
x
Force Majeure Risk
x
Material Adverse Government Action Risk
x
Change in Law Risk
x
Early Termination Risk
x
Condition at Hand back Risk
x


Future Development[edit]

DEN CEO, Kim Day announced after the GHP termination that her aim was to finish the project using the original budget, along with its $120 million contingency fund, even if that meant scaling the project back. In announcing the termination just 13 months after construction began, airport CEO Kim Day said her hope was to get new contractors in place by early next year. Much remains up in the air, including exactly how much DEN will pay the spurned Great Hall Partners in breakup fees. DEN finance chief, Gisela Shanahan said that is still subject to negotiation and will start with the roughly $200 million DEN must repay under the contract for the partners’ up-front costs.[43]

DEN officials have raised the possibility of hiring contractors with airport experience in the near term to finish out the project’s first phase — which was supposed to be done in May — while they pursue a larger contract to finish the rest. But unlike the Great Hall arrangement, the new ones will be straightforward construction and design contracts, not long-term partnerships. Even so, at-large Councilwoman Robin Kniech said she would be looking for a strong construction management component. [44]

The airport has already selected its preferred program management team and approved a construction contract for the TSA Central Monitoring Facility, which is part of the Great Hall Project. The airport selected Jacobs Engineering (the second-largest engineering firm in the Denver area) as its preferred program management team and is issuing Jacobs a “task order” so the engineering firm can become familiar with the Great Hall Project. Both contracts require approval from Denver City Council before they are put into action. [45]

DEN selected a design firm and a Contractor for Phase 1 of the Great Hall Project. Stantec is the lead design firm while Hensel Phelps is the construction manager/ general contractor for the project pending approval Denver City Council committee on November 6. If the city council approves, work could begin in the first quarter of 2020. [46]

Policy Issues[edit]

Concrete Strength[edit]

The reports provided by the Developer on February 18, 2019 reported that the concrete in the Jeppesen terminal is substantially below design strength, deteriorating, or unsuitable from a structural perspective for the planned project. [47]

The concrete samples were taken from the Phase I - MOD 2 area. About half of the cores, some of which showed the lower compressive strengths, were taken before the end of the year. Additional testing were performed to identify core locations, testing of cores, petrographic analysis and engineering evaluation to determine the concrete strength and composition of slab areas within the project.

The airport also provided GHP with a report, dated January 14, from another materials testing agency. The report confirmed the findings of the GHP tests and also indicated the aggregate samples had properties that could lead to ASR (The alkali–silica reaction, more commonly known as "concrete cancer"). A January 28 addendum to the report added: "The presence of fly ash is detected in both samples. It is well established that the use of fly ash is very effective to control ASR if the fly ash content and quality is adequate."

The owner's report from its testing firm, Olson Engineering, concluded that because the concrete is 25 years old and there have been no ASR features observed in two samples, "It looks like the use of fly ash was adequate to make the concrete ASR resistant" [48]

Original Master plan[edit]

The architect behind the white-tented top of the Denver International Airport's iconic terminal, Jim Bradburn, reported that the terminal renovation should not have been done. Referring to the airport's master plan, Bradburn believes that someone lost sight of that vision somewhere along the way. He said the plan was designed in a way to allow for the airport's continued growth and eventual expansion of the main terminal. "Now, of course, they abandon the original master plan, which was to duplicate the terminal to the south so that what’s going on today didn’t have to happen. You could’ve built another terminal over there that met all the new requirements and had the two of them working in tandem with the train station. That was the idea of the original master plan," said Bradburn. [49]

Project Delivery System[edit]

Denver city decided to use Public-Private Partnership model for renovation of the Denver International Airport. Public-Private Partnership (P3) , defined as an agreement between a government agency and a private-sector company, is typically long-term in nature for the purpose of financing, building and operating complex projects. However, the choice of P3 was not entirely supported as a former airport official would announce: “A P3 was not the right way to go from the beginning. In a P3, you need to get out of the way, and airport management insisted on being involved in every detail. Plus, GHP said they could complete the first phase in only 11 months. That was totally unrealistic.” [50]

Based on an email update sent by DEN about the Great Hall project, some more light was shed on the decision to use the P3 model. It said, "We approached the project through an innovative public-private partnership with Great Hall Partners, not for the money, but for their expertise and to transfer the risk of constructing within and operating 24-7 facility." [51] Herewith, DEN did not need Great Hall Partners to finance the renovation. Instead, they were seeking expertise in undertaking such a massive project without disrupting airport operations any more than necessary. This rises questions if the P3 was right approach. The airport did two things well in setting up the contract with GHP — writing in a termination clause and an audit clause, which gave the airport the right to look at GHP's books. [52]

The city of Denver created the office dedicated to evaluating projects in order to determine if the P3 model would be a good fit in those cases, only after awarding of the Great Hall contract. As Denver’s mayor believes, that office could have actually prevented the situation at the airport through a higher level of scrutiny. [53]

Another puzzle in P3 selection was the level of owner's control. Why give away so much control to a partner rather than just hiring the expertise you need? Airport CEO, Kim Day says they now have that expertise in their COO, and of course, they will retain the plans drawn up by Ferrovial for this project.[54]

Project Delays[edit]

According to GHP's report of April 2019, there are significant shifts of tasks in time due to several delays. This delays in partial projects' complications are presented in the following table. [55] According to the table, there is a foreseen 3-year delay in the overall completion of the project.

Task name May 2019 Schedule Initial Baseline
Developer Execution Date
July 26, 2017
July 26, 2017
Effective Date/ Commercial Date
August 24, 2017
August 24, 2017
Financial Close
December 21, 2017
December 21, 2017
NTP 1 per DA5.6 - All Administrative Requirements Due
December 27, 2017
December 27, 2017
NTP 2 per DA5.7 - All Administrative Requirements Due
July 6, 2018
June 26, 2018
Construction Commencement
July 11, 2018
July 30, 2018
Phase 1 - MOD 2
September 9, 2020
May 1, 2019
Phase 2 - MOD 3
January 26, 2022
January 30, 2020
Phase 3 - MOD 1
April 18, 2023
October 23, 2020
Phase 4 - MOD 1&3
May 22, 2024
November 3, 2021

The project delay problems started at the beginning of 2019 when the contracting team reported weak concrete in the main floor of the terminal. These delays, coupled with changes DEN has requested and other delays, would add hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns and years of delays to the project that was originally scheduled to be completed by November 2021. While the contract set the project’s completion date in November 2021, Great Hall Partners had warned that it might not be able to finish the project until as late as 2025 with cost overruns of over $300 million. [56]

The relationship between DEN and GHP got rocky quickly, as even before the groundbreaking ceremony, the contractor was already sending warning signs that something was wrong. In a May 2018 correspondence to the airport, Ferrovial said delays were mounting, blaming “the multitude of Owner Changes being issued on the project.”

A year later in May 2019, CBS4 estimated a 3-year delay with budget overruns amounting up to $310 million due to weak compressive strength of concrete from the original structure that was built in 90's.[9] Although the city contracted a third party who reported that the concrete needed additional testing but was fine to build on, Ferrovial maintained that the concrete problems were a legitimate issue and reason for delay.

In July 2019, the war of words between the two sides escalated as DEN accused the contractor of breaching its contract and threatened to end things. Following several reported issues with the contractor over the project’s timeline, costs, diversity and safety, DEN announced the termination the contract on August 12, 2019 with an effective date of termination in 90 days. [57]

Termination[edit]

The ongoing dispute between Great Hall contractor and the Denver International Airport concerning the terminal renovation product went through mediation, despite a temporary lapse in negotiations. As the mediation session due to several project delays that began in late June 2019 apparently produced little progress, Great Hall faced a deadline to finalize its claims, which specify exactly how much more time and money it’s seeking. For much of this year, they have disagreed about the extent of the fallout from the discovery last fall of weak original concrete in the main level’s flooring, though that concern has dissipated. Great Hall also contended that its work was set back by a litany of airport change directives involving designs, materials and other elements.[24]The contractors released documents showing that the renovation would have cost more than $1 billion and completed with a 3-year delay. That’s $288 million more than the contract, plus a $120-million contingency.

DEN decided to terminate the public-private partnership terminal contract using its “for convenience” clause, in the letter sent to Great Hall Partners on August 12, 2019. The termination of Great Hall was for convenience rather than for cause, which will likely allow the airport to avoid legal battles around the firing. Most construction contracts have a convenience clause, which means that the recipient of the contract can be fired for any reason. [26] The contractors disputed many of DEN’s safety claims and suggest that the letters were meant to distract from the project’s costly disputes, which center on about 20 unresolved airport change directives and a weak concrete issue that stalled a large portion of the project for several months. Great Hall has contended that DEN’s changes in design, materials and other elements go beyond what’s standard for a large project. Airport officials insist the project can be done for the original budget. [58]

Lessons Learned /Takeaways[edit]

According to an article, a cumbersome contract—more than 15,000 pages long and the incompatible teams were the causes leading to the contract failure.[59] Apart from these, owner's continuous change order directives, as well as owner's lacked engagement, direction and cooperation contributed to deteriorating the relationship between DEN and GHP, ending in contract termination.[49] As scope changes require formal and costed contract amendments or approved access to the contingency reserve, the takeaway lesson here is that P3s do not present a flexible mechanism to adapt all these changes and alternative project delivery methods shall be considered when dealing with such cases.

The failed relationship between DEN and Great Hall highlights the risk inherent in using public-private partnerships (P3) for some projects, especially those with the relatively higher risk of "designing for and building in a dynamic operating environment," such as the airport, which has remained open during the project. DEN understood the risks, indicated by its inclusion of a $120 million contingency in Great Hall's contract. [60] "Utilizing the public-private partnership model to procure projects can only attempt to mitigate, not eliminate these risks." said Earl Heffintrayer, transportation analyst at Moody's Investors Service. [61]

The Great Hall case tells us that a feasibility analysis and a Value for Money (VfM) analysis should be conducted in the pre-procurement stage to evaluate if a project can or should be executed as a P3 project. The feasibility analysis determines what type of P3 to use and the related contractual and risk arrangements for project implementation, in case P3 is a feasible procurement approach. As part of this analysis, the detailed scope, performance requirements, evaluation factors and financial model are prepared, as well as the initial risk assessment. Then, Value for Money analysis should be applied to promote the continuation with the project as P3 project delivery system. VfM analysis provides information that can help decision makers evaluate the relative merits and trade offs associated with using a P3 delivery option to develop a particular project versus more traditional public sector procurement options. A VfM analysis includes both a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the differences between the project delivery options (public vs private) that are evaluated. The results of a cost-benefit or financial feasibility analysis can often be summarized with single number, such as a return on investment ratio or an estimate of the public subsidy that may be required to advance a project. The VFM comparison includes a financial analysis but it also has to provide the qualitative analysis of the strengths and limitations of each project delivery option and address factors that are relevant to a decision to pursue a P3 but are difficult to quantify in monetary terms [62] Moving forward, alternatives to public-private partnerships should be searched and if none exist, the DEN airport should consider postponing the project until public financing is available.

Discussion/ Questions[edit]

  1. Was the Private-Public partnership (P3) the right project delivery system for the Great Hall project?
  2. If it had been a traditional government procurement project, would the DEN have been able to proceed with the project in the same way that GHP did? If so, what would be the critical role of DEN in the event of weak structural issues?
  3. Now that the DEN decided to award the contract to individual design and construction managers, can the project be successfully finished as per the schedule?
  4. Although the DEN finds termination of existing contract with GHP to be financially suggested, the post-termination compensation can amount up to $200 million. What do you think about the implications of intermediate contract termination on the overall cost of the project?
  5. Now that the revenue risks are retained in traditional contract, will the DEN be able to successfully fund the updated schedule?

Additional Readings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Denver International Airport, Great Hall Project Council Committee, July 26, 2017, https://www.flydenver.com/sites/default/files/environmental/Committee%20Presentation.pdf
  2. Great Hall Project Construction Update, What's Next for the Great Hall Project?, September 2019, https://www.flydenver.com/sites/default/files/greathall/ghNews_2019_Sept.pdf
  3. Denver International Airport, Great Hall Project, https://www.flydenver.com/greathall
  4. Anusha Roy, $1.8 billion plan to improve DIA moves forward, 9news, July 26, 2017, https://www.9news.com/article/news/18-billion-plan-to-improve-dia-moves-forward/73-459830911
  5. Ben Markus & Hayley Sanchez, DIA Construction: What Are They Doing Now And How Long Is It Gonna Take?, CPR News, August 27, 2019, https://www.cpr.org/2019/08/27/dia-construction-what-are-they-doing-now-and-how-long-is-it-gonna-take/
  6. Ferrovial newsroom, Ferrovial achieves financial closure of the Great Hall project, at Denver Airport, for 650 million dollars, September 22, 2017, https://newsroom.ferrovial.com/en/press_releases/financial-closure-great-hall-project-denver-airport/
  7. Ferrovial newsroom, Denver's Great Hall project has its construction phase opening, July 17, 2018, https://newsroom.ferrovial.com/en/news/great-hall-project-denver-construction/
  8. Great Hall Partners, "Construction Project Report" April 2019, https://emma.msrb.org/ER1234875-ER966012-ER1366942.pdf
  9. a b Brian Maass, "CBS4 Investigation: DIA Great Hall Construction Won’t Be Complete Until 2025", CBS4 Denver, May 22, 2019 https://denver.cbslocal.com/2019/05/22/denver-international-airport-great-hall-project/
  10. Jon Murray, "DIA rejects Great Hall contractor’s cost and delay claim over weak concrete in terminal", The Denver Post, August 12, 2019 https://www.denverpost.com/2019/08/12/dia-terminal-project-concrete/
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