The construction of the University of Connecticut campus in Hartford ran almost $30 million over budget, according to an audit released by the Auditors of Public Accounts on April 13.
The UConn Hartford campus opened in what was formerly the Hartford Times Building in 2017.
“The initial contracts signed by the developer and the university established an estimated construction budget of $70,000,000, and a not-to-exceed total campus project budget for the renovation of the Hartford Times Building of $87,000,000,” reads the audit written by Auditor John C. Geragosian.
According to the audit, the university then adjusted the contract 24 times, with more than 283 changes.
“The final construction and total campus renovation costs were $102,896,043 and $116,701,564, respectively, each of which are far in excess of the ‘3% to 5% range’ cited by the university,” reads the audit.
The university contests the findings of the audit.
“The Board-approved budget for the Hartford Campus Relocation project was $140.0 Million, and the final costs were $131.8 Million, or $8.2 Million under budget,” said university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz.
The original $70 million budget was a benchmark estimate of the cost for a simple office building renovation and did not include a new building or renovation of the historic Hartford Times Building, according to Reitz.
“Once designed and bid, the construction budget was established at $98 million, which was incorporated into the Final Board of Trustees approvals for the relocation project as a whole. The final cost of construction for the Hartford Times Building at the completion of the building was $103 million, an increase of $4.9 million — a 5% increase, which is within a normal range of good construction management,” said Reitz.
The audit lists other concerns about UConn construction spending, such as the lack of competitive bidding on other unrelated projects.