Denver is moving forward on a new Convention Center contract after killing the last one for malpractice

The Colorado Convention Center seen from atop the Le Meridien Hotel on California Street. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Colorado Convention Center seen from atop the Le Meridien Hotel on California Street. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

A Denver City Council committee advanced an $8 million contract to manage the Colorado Convention Center expansion on Tuesday, seven months after a scandal halted the project.

In December, the city government accused Trammel Crow, the company it contracted to manage the renovation, of leaking information to Mortenson, a potential bidder. The alleged rigging paused the entire project, and on Tuesday the City Council pressed the reset button.

The new contract will go to Rider Levett Bucknall, a firm that has managed convention center expansions in Hong Kong, Phoenix and Hawaii. The company will be on the job for at least three years.

Council members prodded the contract, which is for “on-call” services — just like Trammel Crow’s. That leeway allowed the company to work on a completely separate 16th Street Mall project and, according to records obtained by the Denver Post, led Trammel Crow staffers to expect more money for other yet-to-be-named projects.

City Councilman Rafael Espinoza questioned Rider Levett Bucknall’s contract on those grounds. Trammel Crow’s extra work was “difficult and frustrating to find out about,” he said. Espinoza will suggest nixing the on-call nature of the contract when it goes before the full Council later this month.

A city staffer said the contract allows for flexibility as the city government’s needs change in the coming years.

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