By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)– Mayoral candidate Jamie Giellis accused Denver Mayor Michael Hancock of covering up projected cost overruns and delays on DIA’s Great Hall Project during a debate Wednesday night at Denver’s Art Museum.

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“Overruns of this magnitude don’t crop up overnight,” said Giellis. ”My question is what did you know, when did you know it and why did you cover it up?”

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Giellis’ accusation came the day after a CBS4 Investigation revealed the developer of the airport’s Great Hall Project said the initial $650 million cost would rise to $960 million, a 47% increase, due to concrete problems, change orders, delays and other factors. CBS4 also reported that internal data from Great Hall Partners, the developer, suggested the project would not be completed until 2025. It was supposed to be finished in 2021. The new 38-month delay has not yet been publicly disclosed.

(credit: CBS)

CBS4 Investigation: DIA Great Hall Construction Won’t Be Complete Until 2025

“So there wasn’t a cover up,” responded Hancock. He went on to say that the figures reported by CBS4 were projections from the developer that had not been verified by the city.

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“We don’t know what the final cost will be,” said Hancock.

He emphasized there had not yet been cost overruns and that the new numbers were “forecasts by the developer.”

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Up until Wednesday night, city and DIA officials had said they did not know what the potential financial impacts were from the projected delays for the terminal redevelopment.

Asked later about her cover up accusation, Giellis appeared to backtrack saying she was “not making that accusation.”

Hancock was not surprised by the attack over the airport project saying, ”She shouldn’t respond to anything she doesn’t know anything about especially high level issues that are complex and technical.”

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Giellis questioned how long the mayor knew about the new projected costs and delays.

“So the question was why did it come out with your story? Where was the transparency from the city to say,”we’re running into issues and realities we need to face,” said Giellis.

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The City and the Great Hall Developer are planning to enter mediation next month to deal with disputed issues. The runoff election is June 4.

Brian Maass