Two companies at the center of bid-rigging accusations on the Colorado Convention Center expansion project have paid the city of Denver $9 million as part of a new settlement agreement, the city said Wednesday.
The city settlement follows smaller agreements reached by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office last spring with Trammell Crow, the project’s former development manager, and Mortenson Construction, a construction bidder.
The new $9 million settlement, split evenly by the companies, will cover the cost of delays to the project, city spokesman Ryan Luby said. The city had to start the bidding process anew after it discovered evidence two years ago that a Trammell Crow executive had provided Mortenson, one of three bidders, with confidential information about the $233 million expansion project, among other irregularities.
In July, the city awarded the design-build contract to Hensel Phelps Construction. This summer, construction is expected to get underway on work including the addition of a large rooftop terrace. The project is expected to wrap up in late 2023.
The city settlement bars Mortenson from bidding on city contracts for three years. Both companies also issued new public apologies, with Trammell Crow reiterating that the blame fell on the actions of a senior vice president whom it fired “as soon as the misconduct came to light.”
“This settlement means we’ve made taxpayers whole, our well-established procurement rules have been fortified and this critical public project is moving forward to support our post-COVID economic recovery,” Mayor Michael Hancock said in a news release. “This case involved a serious breach of Denver’s well-established procurement rules by companies that should have known better.
“The watchful efforts of city employees in this administration uncovered the breach,” Hancock added, crediting city officials for acting on it.
In April, Mortenson agreed to pay a $650,000 state fine and to donate construction services worth the same amount to a project of public interest, among other terms negotiated by Attorney General Phil Weiser’s office following a state investigation. Mortenson later aided construction of a tiny home village for the homeless in Denver.
Trammell Crow’s state settlement included a $250,000 fine, a lower amount that recognized its early cooperation with investigators.