A $276-million project to double the size and capacity of the Savannah Convention Center in Georgia is facing construction delays, the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission announced Feb. 20. With material completion originally scheduled for last year, its planned opening was pushed back to May of this year and now work is expected to slip even further.

“A variety of construction challenges” created the delay, according to the state commission. Officials said in a statement that they are working with Clark Construction Group, the project’s general contractor and construction manager, to determine a new timeline.

The exact cause of the delays remains disputed, but a spokesperson for the commission wrote in an email that officials “identified jobsite productivity issues, coordination efforts and work sequencing that must be improved to mitigate continued delays and ensure the project is delivered at the quality expected by all parties involved.”

Jesse Rice, senior vice president of Clark Construction, said in a statement to ENR that the project has faced numerous challenges, including differing site conditions and design changes. But there are hundreds of people working on site each day and the contractor is regularly communicating the project status with the commission and the expansion's designer, TVS.

"Clark's expertise in delivering large-scale construction projects has allowed us to mitigate the impact of the majority of these changes," Rice said.

As for any additional costs associated with the delays, the spokesperson said the commission is reviewing and approving requests that comply with contract requirements. They added that Clark “was heavily involved in preconstruction efforts and design development, and the analysis of any additional costs must account for that involvement.” But they did not specify the amount of added costs. 

“As we work to finish the convention center, we will protect the financial interests of the state, hardworking Georgians, project subcontractors and all of our financial partners,” said Gerald Pilgrim, chief of staff at the commission, in a statement. 

The existing 330,000-sq-ft convention center opened in 2000. Expanding the facility is necessary to draw more visitors to the area, state officials have said. 

The expansion project is adding a 100,000-sq-ft exhibition hall, a 40,000-sq-ft ballroom, 15 meeting rooms and a parking structure with more than 900 spaces. Work started in 2021. 

While the delay is expected to have impacts on some planned events, Mark Smith, who chairs the Savannah Georgia Convention Center Authority, said in a statement that the existing facility remains open. 

“This is a short-term construction delay, but we remain focused on our long-term vision to create an exceptional experience for everyone who visits Savannah,” Smith said.