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Levitt Pavilion construction delay tied to contractor issue

Published 3:45 pm, Monday, July 1, 2013

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  • A view towards the past and future site of the Levitt Center for the Performing Arts, which typically hosts around 50 summer performances at the venue behind Westport Library. Photo: Cameron Martin / Westport News
    A view towards the past and future site of the Levitt Center for the Performing Arts, which typically hosts around 50 summer performances at the venue behind Westport Library. Photo: Cameron Martin

 

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Construction of the new Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts, scheduled to start this spring, has been delayed several months because the company hired to complete the nearly $6 million project has been unable to get bonding from an insurance company so far.

Verdi Construction, based in Bethel, is meeting with a possible bonding agent on Tuesday, said Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy, who is the project manager for construction of the new pavilion on the banks of the Saugatuck River.

"They're in the process of changing their bonding company, and that takes time," McCarthy told the Westport News. "This is a somewhat unusual delay as they get their contracts squared away."

Construction of the revamped pavilion behind Westport Library was initially scheduled to start last September. But the start date was delayed, as the nonprofit Friends of the Levitt Pavilion worked toward its approximately $4.75 million fundraising target needed to begin construction. After that goal was reached in the spring, construction was slated to start May 15, and the Levitt's summer season was moved from its site to Jesup Green in anticipation of the start of construction.

McCarthy hopes Verdi would have its bonding in place this week and that construction on the new pavilion can begin within the next two weeks. The new pavilion will be financed by $4.75 million in private contributions, a $1.1 million town appropriation and $950,000 in state grants.

"We're excited to work with Verdi," McCarthy said. "They were patient while we got our funding in place. We do understand this as a reasonable delay. They're changing their bonding company, it takes time to do that."

The site of the former pavilion is largely vacant except for overgrowth which will have to be cleared before construction begins. Verdi will use the Westport Library's two southernmost parking rows during the project as a base for some equipment.

The new pavilion complex constitutes one of the most significant capital projects planned in downtown Westport during the next five years. Designed by Westport architect Peter Cadoux, it will include a stage under a tensile roof, a covered entry pavilion with restrooms, a food concession and hospitality terrace, a new lawn seating area and an extended riverwalk around the site.

The construction project, which was slated to take 11 months, should still be completed in time for the pavilion's 2014 season, McCarthy said.

Meanwhile, the Levitt's current season has begun on Jesup Green in front of the library. The stage is set up at the west end of the green facing uphill toward police headquarters. The layout creates amphitheatre-like seating. The temporary stage measures 28 by 20 feet, compared to the old 30-by-40-foot structure at the pavilion grounds.

The pavilion hosts 50 or more free performances each summer from late June until September, and the temporary pavilion is hosting a comparable schedule at Jesup Green.