Grout Is Costly Problem For Builders


    GRAND RAPIDS — Worksite accidents, a lack of materials, or too few craftsmen are not problems for the building project. No, that grating honor belongs to grout.

    According to construction managers Matt Barnes and Joe Erhardt, grout is the single, most significant dilemma they’re facing as they build DeVos Place, the city’s convention facility. More specifically, it’s their need for more grout and the cost of that mortary fill that is eating holes in their construction budget.

    Barnes and Erhardt, who represent the project’s construction manager Erhardt-Hunt, told members of the Convention and Arena Authority last week that they have spent an additional $500,000 on grout so far, which has been used to fill the 40 to 50 foot-deep holes they have dug for the building’s foundation.

    Barnes said his crews have pumped over 1,000 cubic yards of grout thus far on the site that will eventually hold the Grand Gallery, and he expects that they will spend at least another $200,000 on grout when they begin work on the Welsh Auditorium site. Both sites sit atop a former riverbed.

    Normally, Barnes said it takes about five cubic yards of grout to fill a hole, and a few holes on the worksite have taken the normal amount. But many holes, he said, have needed up to 100 cubic yards, or 20 times the normal amount, to fill. The catch is grout isn’t cheap, as a cubic yard runs about $5.

    But other than the grout glitch, the project is proceeding safely, with no time lost to accidents over the first 185 workdays, and is on schedule. Crews are currently removing asbestos from the former Hall of Justice at the southwest corner of Monroe and Michigan.

    “Within the next four weeks you’ll see the police building actually start to come down, and by the end of the year that will be totally gone,” said Barnes, who added that the court portion of the building will likely be razed by the end of January.

    In other business, the CAA gave TicketMaster a five-year agreement that allows the Los Angeles-based company to continue selling tickets for events at the Van Andel Arena and the Grand Center.

    SMG, the Philadelphia-based firm that manages both buildings, favored the TicketMaster bid and has the authority to enter into agreements for the board. But for this contract, SMG general manager Rich MacKeigan went to the CAA’s Operations Committee for input, and that group unanimously approved renewing the contract with TicketMaster.

    “We heard a report from Rich MacKeigan of SMG and he analyzed two proposals on ticketing services, one from TicketMaster and one from and Tickets PLUS. Both of these proposals provided a significant increase in revenue to the arena,” said Lew Chamberlin, chair of the committee.

    “After analyzing all of this information it was the recommendation of SMG corporate and SMG locally that we go ahead and finalize a contract with TicketMaster,” he added.

    Although ticket-buying fees will rise annually, MacKeigan said local charges are lower than in other parts of the nation.

    “Over the length of the contract, you’re looking at about 20 cents a year in each one of the categories because there is a different convenience fee that is charged for concerts than is charged for sports and family shows and for the arts tenants,” said MacKeigan.

    “These are fees that exist, to my knowledge, in every market that does ticketing. Even venues that do their own ticketing have these fees,” he added. “I can say with certainty that the convenience fee and the overall end-user fee in western Michigan is considerably below the average.”

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