Missouri Theatre faces more debt after arbitration ruling

Friday, August 27, 2010 | 5:10 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — An arbitration judge in Kansas City ruled this week that the Missouri Theatre must pay $386,090.70 in fees and legal costs to a Columbia construction company, pushing the theater farther into debt.

Jerome Bales awarded Huebert Builders, Inc. $139,001.97 in construction fees. The remaining $247,088.73 is compensation for interest, legal fees and process costs.

Huebert Builders originally sued the theater for $407,352.15 in disputed construction cost change orders. According to a previous Missourian article, the theater claimed that delays and unapproved changes to the contract with the construction company equaled the contested expenses.

The board of the Missouri Symphony Society will consider its options in an emergency session on Sept. 2, according to a news release from board president Christina George.

"It's a real blow to our efforts to re-organize, re-energize and professionalize the theater's operations and to our hopes that our community would come to recognize that this is a public treasure worth saving," George said.

The disputed construction costs were part of the theater's $10 million renovation project, which was completed in May 2008. Huebert Builders filed the lawsuit nearly a year later, on March 31, 2009.

The theater's renovation cost $4 million more than originally anticipated; $2.5 million of that debt remains. The theater temporarily closed its doors on Aug. 1 due to strained finances and the resignation of executive director Eric Staley.

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