By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – The rift grew dramatically this week between Denver International Airport and the developer of the Great Hall project, with DIA accusing the developer of “an incredible lack of professionalism.” Officials accused the developer of  disrupting the terminal during the airports busiest time of year, “knowingly interfering with airport activities” and breaching its contract, potentially leading to termination of the deal.

(credit: CBS)

The explosive accusations are contained in four letters dated July 24 and sent from DIA to the developer of the Great Hall project. CBS4 obtained the letters Friday under a Colorado Open Records Act Request.

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The $650 million terminal redevelopment has been problematic for months, with delays due to concrete concerns. The developer claims DIA has filed multiple change orders, delaying the project and adding to the cost.

(credit: CBS)

The redevelopment, which began in 2018, was supposed to be completed in 2021. But in internal communications obtained by CBS4, Ferrovial and Saunders construction, the primary developers of the project, have projected cost overruns of $311 million and delays of as much as three years — suggesting the project might not be finished until 2024 or 2025.

The airport and Great Hall partners have been engaged in mediation, in the hopes of resolving their differences. But the four letters indicate the relationship is anything but harmonious.

In one letter, DIA officials accuse Great Hall Partners of “Intentional Interference with Airport Activities,” a breach of contract.

DIA officials contend some temporary walls on level 5 surrounding domestic baggage claims have remained up far longer than necessary.

“Developer has refused to remove the McCain Walls surrounding the baggage carousels with no reasonable explanation for such refusal,” reads the letter.

The airport states it has experienced prolonged disruptions “given the fact that this delay is occurring during the Airport’s busiest season of the year when the Airport is experiencing record amounts of passenger traffic. Developer is intentionally refusing to remove the McCain Walls and is purposefully and knowingly interfering with Airport Activities.” 

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(credit: CBS)

Based on that issue, DIA officials notified GHP they are in breach of their contract.

“If it recurs frequently or continues, may result in termination of this Agreement for Persistent Developer Breach.”

In another letter, DIA claims the developer “continues to engage in unsafe and unprofessional construction practices that put its workers and airport passengers at risk.”

In a third letter, DIA accuses the developers of failing to comply with minority and women-owned business parameters. 

In a fourth letter, DIA officials claimed that the developer asked in a meeting July 23, “How much is it not legal to build without a permit?”

In the letter, DIA officials said they were “extremely discouraged” by the question, which “showed an incredible lack of professionalism and a lack of basic understanding of what is required to design, permit, and construct  a project within the City and County of Denver. By posting the question… Developer effectively asked City officials to allow Developer to break the law in order to complete its work on the project. It is alarming to the Owner that Developer has even contemplated violating the law, much less voiced the possibility to the governing authorities.”

Asked about the newly obtained letters, DIA Communications Vice President Stacey Stegman said, “We continue to work through a number of issues on the Great Hall Project but areas which we will not compromise on are safety and quality. We have a responsibility to protect our passengers and employees and when any of our contractors take actions that we believe are unsafe, we address them immediately.”

CBS4 contacted a spokesperson for Great Hall Partners early Friday morning. On Friday afternoon, GHP provided a response:

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“We are disappointed by — and completely disagree with — the mischaracterizations and false allegations made in these letters.  We have complied with all aspects of the Development Agreement, and are fully committed to continuing to ensure best practices in both safety and diversity.  We are addressing these allegations directly with DEN and will continue to meet our obligations under the Agreement in order to deliver the project, which we believe is in the best interest of all parties.”

Brian Maass