On Monday, Dave Penzone, the consultant hired by Mayor Ashton Hayward to oversee the VT MAE project at the Pensacola International Airport, updated the Pensacola City Council on the progress of the $45-million construction project.
FAA certification has been received for the airport. There has been no objection to any of the construction activity, except for some changes that were needed to be made as a result of the configuration of the building, with respect to the antennas and the localizers.
The construction schedule is three weeks behind schedule, but Greenhut Construction is optimistic that it can bring the project back on schedule, according to Penzone.
“So at the moment, it’s behind, but I think there is a belief, particularly with the pre-engineered metal building programming that we will pick up those three weeks,” he told the council at its agenda review. “Of course, a lot of this is dependent upon weather, or any circumstances that always in any major construction project like this.”
He added, “I’m sort of new to the game myself. As I’m understanding things, the process of coming out of the ground is the most complicated part of the process. Once that happens, then the vertical erection should move fairly swiftly.”
The construction costs remain with the original budgeted amounts. Any cost increases are being offset by savings in other areas.
Penzone said, “Spending is happening as projected about $3-$4 million a month as the project is moving forward.”
Scott Luth and his team at FloridaWest, the county’s economic development authority, have met with VT MAE officials about workforce development.
Penzone explained the timeline: “July is the recruitment for the Leadership Team. In August, offers will be extended for the Leadership Team. In November, the Leadership Team will be recruiting about 150 employees to be on the ground and train when the facility opens in 2018. In January of 2018, VT MAE will be commencing training of the staff in Mobile, and the expected opening is the Spring of 2018.”
The consultant said VT MAE has committed to hiring 400 employees at the facility, and the company’s president and its board are excited about the project.
“I think that bids well for the City of Pensacola because as you know, if this project is successful there’s always the opportunity for Phase 2, and there’s always the opportunity for expanding sort of the foot print here in Pensacola,” said Penzone.
“I feel cautiously optimistic that this is going to be a very successful project.”