Photo Courtesy of The Advocate
Performing arts center now has nearly doubled in cost and is about four years behind its original planned completion date.

Officials of Jefferson Parish, La., and contractor J. Caldarera & Co. Inc. appear to be on a path to negotiate a payment settlement to end a drawn-out dispute over completing the parish's stalled and overbudget performing-arts center, according to project sources.

The agreement, under which the La Place, La.-based contractor would be paid a lump sum to complete the project, would be an alternative to declaring the firm in default.

Caldarera would have a year to complete the job under the agreement, although company owner Joe Caldarera said it likely would take less time, according to a published local report.

The project, originally budgeted at $26 million and set for completion in 2009, now appears to be costing at least $44 million. It is located in Metairie, La.

In a recent appearance before the parish council, Caldarera explained that design changes and other issues have delayed the job's completion.

There were 508 design changes, each a page to several pages long. Caldarera said another cause of the delay was lack of payment from the owner.

In addition to resolving the design changes, 250 issues with the original design had to be fixed by managers in the field by verbal agreement.

Jefferson Parish is hoping to tap the state for needed funds since the performing-arts center is actually a state project the parish is building and will run for the state, says the published report.

J. Caldarera & Co. Inc. specializes in construction management, heavy highway, industrial, municipal and utility work.