Delayed Hyatt project for Shore now expected to open Aug. 29

Cambridge resort's debut has been changed 3 times

May 10, 2002|By June Arney | June Arney,SUN STAFF

The troubled Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort, which has seen its debut delayed three times, will finally open Aug. 29, Hyatt officials said yesterday.

The $74.4 million project on the edge of the Choptank River in Cambridge has endured contract disputes and a threatened mechanic's lien while seeing its opening pushed back from Dec. 1 to March 1 to June 1.

In March, Clark Construction Group Inc., the resort's general contractor, filed papers in Dorchester County Circuit Court to obtain a mechanic's lien, blaming about $20 million in cost overruns on the Maryland Economic Development Corp.

But officials from MEDCO, the quasi-public nonprofit agency that owns the hotel, said Clark signed a maximum price contract of $70.8 million and then exceeded it.

The dispute left subcontractors unpaid and furniture for the resort's 400 rooms undelivered.

Michael T. Walsh, the resort's general manager, said yesterday that all three of the project's partners have agreed to split an additional cost, of about $15 million, for furnishings, operational supplies and guest amenities, enabling the project to move forward. The three partners are Clark Enterprises Inc. of Bethesda, Clark Construction's parent company; Quadrangle Development Corp. of Washington; and Hyatt Hotels and Resorts of Chicago. Hans F. Mayer, executive director of MEDCO, had said in March that Clark was balking at paying its share.

Matters related to the construction contract and payment of subcontractors remain unresolved, Walsh said.

Officials from Clark Construction, MEDCO and Quadrangle could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"While this has been a somewhat prolonged process, all involved parties have banded together to ensure a strong, successful opening, and we look forward to welcoming our guests to the beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland," Scott Miller, president of Hyatt Hotels Corp., said in a statement yesterday.

Said Walsh: "I am focused on my four-month pre-opening schedule, like I should have been a while back. Yesterday is over, and today is a new day. It's like a rainbow. We're ready to open up that pot of gold."

Sod was laid at the waterfront resort yesterday and mulch put down. A job fair is planned for early next month to hire the needed 300 employees.

Officials of the six-story luxury resort, part of a $150 million project that will include private homes, hope to attract a clientele similar to that of the Greenbrier in West Virginia and the Homestead in Virginia. It will include three swimming pools, a European health spa and a wildlife refuge.

State and local tourism officials had hoped that the resort's opening would coincide with the busy summer season, when crowds drive through Cambridge on the way to Ocean City and other beaches. Instead, the resort will open at the tail end of the summer.

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