Don’t you just hate it when you are right but being right means that something went drastically wrong and it is going to cost you more money?
Back on Dec. 12, 2009 I wrote a blog post questioning the wisdom of abandoning a 45-year-old building that had just been refurbished to purchase a 55-year-old building and refurbishing it as the headquarters for the Winnipeg Police Service.
The following is a quote from that post:
The current plan calls for the city to develop approximately half a million square feet of space for police use at a cost of $135 million: $30 million to purchase the building and another $105 million to do the upgrades. There are some important unanswered questions hanging in the air. Anyone who has restored an old building, or watched This Old House, knows that when you revive old buildings they can become money pits. Does buying and restoring a 55 year old building to replace a 45 year old building (PSB), the interior of which has been recently and extensively upgraded, make good sense from a practical business perspective? Were other options considered? Can this project be brought in on budget or is there a risk that this project will become a public money pit with Winnipeg taxpayers footing the bill?
It did not take long for the money pit scenario to take form. The original cost projections of $135 million which formed the basis for approval of the project were quickly revised. The cost projection went from $130 million to $180 million in the blink of an eye. Whats more, no one seemed to bat an eye. It was as if those in the know knew this was coming. Can you say ‘bait and switch”?
The latest cost projection puts the cost at around $200 million and quite possibly even that number should be taken with a grain of salt.
How is it that a retired cop with limited background in real-estate and construction was able to see a potential disaster in the making and the tall foreheads at city hall, the experts in this field, did not?
What has become crystal clear is the New PSB has become a money pit and as usual, the citizens of Winnipeg will be left holding the bag, again.