A company memo from Scottsdale-based Hunt Construction Group lays claim to Mesa’s Waveyard project, but both companies said the memo’s overzealous author simply made a wave out of a ripple.
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The memo, leaked by one of Hunt Construction’s West Division employees, is titled “Congratulations to the West Division Team!” and contains a dateline of Sept. 21 in Mesa.
It begins: “Hunt Construction Group has been awarded the Waveyard Development.”
Not true, Waveyard co-founder Jerry Hug said, adding that the contract is merely to produce detailed cost estimates for building Waveyard.
“Waveyard is going to be built, whether it’s in Mesa or not,” he said. “We’re trying to be very well-prepared — we’ve got to be.”
The employee memo goes on to list Waveyard’s major elements — a 400-room resort hotel, conference center, white-water rafting course and surfing wave pool — along with a brief construction schedule.
“Preconstruction is set to begin in October 2007; construction will proceed in mid 2008 with an estimated completion in October 2010,” it states.
Troy Hoberg, Hunt Construction vice president of business development, said the notice went out to all employees in his division but that its characterization of the deal with Waveyard was inaccurate.
“Right now, we just procured the preconstruction (contract),” Hoberg said. “We’re not perfect — sometimes things are mistyped.”
At face value, the company notice appears to contradict claims by Hug and Waveyard co-founder Richard Mladick that their project will not move forward in Mesa unless voters approve a tax rebate incentive valued at more than $30 million.
The Hunt Construction memo does not mention Proposition 300, the proposed $30 million sales tax rebate proposal for Waveyard, or indicate the construction contract is contingent on its passage. A special Mesa election for Prop. 300 will be held Nov. 6, although early ballots already pouring in to the Maricopa County Elections Department likely will determine the outcome.
But Hug said that Waveyard has not jumped the gun and is simply engaging in smart business practices by having an experienced contractor such as Hunt Construction estimate Waveyard’s likely building costs, a difficult task given the constant changes in prices of materials and fuel.
“We thought it would make sense to use a company like Hunt Construction,” he said.
Hunt Construction is one of the nation’s largest heavy-construction firms, specializing in sports arenas. It completed what is now Chase Field for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998, and Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals, in 2006.
Hug said that no contractor has been signed for Waveyard’s construction, but Hunt Construction’s preliminary work will be considered when it’s time to make that decision.
“I think it certainly gives them a leg up,” he said.