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Construction monitor: arena still ahead of schedule (if you move the goalposts); new document regarding schedule was to emerge in February, but not seen yet

From Merritt & Harris report
The latest report on Atlantic Yards construction progress, as with its predecessor last month, maintains a 9/5/12 date for substantial completion of the Barclays Arena and site work, giving arena operators little more than three weeks to test building systems before the first event, a 9/28/12 concert with superstar Jay-Z.

And, as with the February report, the latest report fudges the numbers to assert that the arena is "slightly ahead of schedule," based on actual cash flow versus projected cash flow.

That conclusion, however depends on changing the schedule, a slight-of-pen unacknowledged in the latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee. (Dated 3/1/12, it's based on a visit of 1/26/12 and documents made available 2/17/12 review.)

The report mentions a new GMP2 (Guaranteed Maximum Price) schedule to be issued in February that would establish the final completion date. As with many promised documents in the past, it has not emerged in time for the report.

How to fudge the numbers

Top chart from Feb. 2012
bottom from Jan. 2012
Merritt & Harris chronicles construction progress via charts. The latest chart of arena construction, below, suggests that actual spending handily outpaces projected spending. But, as I pointed out last month, the chart accompanying the January report (bottom in chart) indicated that the arena had been slightly behind for three months.

The solution, in February as with this month, was to stretch out the timetable for the hard cost spending total of $485 million-plus, thus portraying current spending as outpacing the projected spending.

In the January report, as of the June 2013 final completion date, there was to be $485,012,000 spent, or 100% percent of the total.

In the February 2012 report, that timetable was relaxed. As of June 2013, there was to be $479,818,000 spent, or 98.88% of the total. Similarly, the latest report puts the June 2013 total at $480,131,000, or 98.88% of the total.

Given the longer period to spend the total, each previous month has a target completion percentage lower than in the January chart, with less spending needed to keep pace. There's no indication of when 100% would be spent.


Workers at the site: 607?

There have been 540 people working at the arena and 67 at the Transit Connection in the last month, according to the report:


That likely both underestimates and overestimates the number of workers. On the one hand, it omits workers at the railyard, which is not funded by bond funds and thus not subject. On the other hand, some workers only work part-time. 


While Forest City Ratner in January reported 666 workers, that likely worked out to be about 500 full-time jobs.

Transit connection delayed

The report says the arena is on schedule for a final completion date, including punch list work, of 6/30/13.  The Transit Connection was scheduled to be completed by 4/2/12, but is two months behind.

However, because there's some slack in the schedule--the Transit Connection isn't supposed to open until the arena does--the "additional 2 months will have no impact on the overall project schedule."

The report states that "due to early delays" the Construction Schedule slipped by approximately 2 months." That simply doesn't compute. The early delays had no significant impact, because the transit connection was well ahead of schedule for many months, as the graphic below indicates.

An updated construction schedule to include the Transit Connection canopy was to be submitted by February 2012, but has not yet emerged.

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