Release Date: July 20, 2009

Sutter gets new construction boss for downtown expansion

Sacramento Bee

Work has come to a temporary halt at the massive Sutter Health expansion project in midtown after a highly unusual mid-job switch in construction managers. Off the job is Turner Construction, a national firm that's been general contractor on the project since 2003. Replacing Turner, as of the end of this week, is The Boldt Co. of Wisconsin, according to Sutter's project manager, Larry Maas . Maas says the switch followed a "mutual agreement" between Turner and Sutter that big cost increases and construction delays required a change. "We came to the conclusion that we wouldn't be able to meet our objectives unless we did something different," Maas says. Turner officials acknowledge the project experienced various problems, including cost escalation and permitting difficulties. In a statement issued late Wednesday, the company says it is working to "resolve outstanding issues with Sutter" and expresses pride in its record in completing medical projects. Sutter's Maas says Boldt employees will spend the next four to six weeks assessing the project and developing a new schedule and budget. But he says the hospital can't afford to allow any more increases in a budget that's ballooned from $456 million to $665 million over the past four years. "That's the budget," he says of the $665 million figure. "There is no more (money). They have to deliver to that budget." If that's not possible, "it could mean reducing the scope" of the project. The change comes as workers near completion of the project's first medical component a four-story office building and power plant on 28th Street, between Capitol and L. Work also is under way on a rehab of the existing Sutter General Hospital . And foundation work has begun on the project's biggest element a 242-bed women's and children's hospital one block east of the office building. The project has had as many as 35 Turner officials and more than 100 subcontractors on site. Many of the subs will stay on after a "lull" as Boldt takes over, Maas says, and some priority work could resume next week. Of the change in general contractors, Maas says it's unusual "but not totally unexpected." A project of this size is a "marathon," he says, adding that the people who start marathons "don't always finish them." Shovel ready Things are looking up for the developers of a residential and retail project at 19th and Broadway. They learned recently that their construction lender was experiencing financial troubles. But last week they got a $25 million commitment from a new lender, Evanston Financial. "Despite everything (negative) out there, this shows there is money being lent," says Marc Jasso , CEO of Millennium Real Estate Services and a partner in the project. Demolition work on the site's existing buildings now could start as early as October, followed by construction of a five-story, energy-efficient building with retail on the ground level topped by 136 units of subsidized and market-rate apartments. The developers are seeking gap financing from the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency . They also are set to receive $4.4 million in state Proposition 1C funding. Oversized art Artist Stephanie Taylor is really getting into "piecework." As we reported, she recently created a big landscape for the Le Rivage Hotel by painting segments of the work in segments at home, then taking the pieces and assembling them together at the hotel. Now she's used the same technique on a stucco wall at the Hallmark Inn in downtown Davis. This mural, depicting an agricultural scene, was "the largest single painting of my entire career," Taylor says of the 50-by-20-foot work created in 4-by-5-foot sections. The idea of painting a mural at home, in segments, instead of in one piece on-site while on a scaffolding, appeals to Taylor, who is 61. "I'm getting too old," she says, "to be hanging off the side of a building."