The rise and fall of GulfQuest

The $60 million GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico closed in November 2016, after just 13 months in operation. Lagniappe's series of news stories, investigations, commentary and reviews raised questions about its feasibility before the doors even opened. BY LAGNIAPPE STAFF

The rise and fall of GulfQuest

GulfQuest issued certificate of occupancy

Colby Cooper, the mayor’s chief of staff, sent a letter to the City Council yesterday announcing that GulfQuest had been issued its official Certificate of Occupancy. Cooper called it “a significant next step and puts the project in its final stretch.” Previously, GulfQuest Director Tony Zodrow explained that the opening date of the national maritime museum was dependent on the certificate, because sensitive displays and equipment could not installed until major construction was complete. GulfQuest in April 2014. An interactive display called “America’s Sea” under construction in the lobby of GulfQuest. GulfQuest’s logo in the building’s lobby. LAGNIAPPE |...

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City mired in dispute with GulfQuest contractor for years

Monthly progress reports and internal emails indicate a dispute with one of GulfQuest’s primary contractors went unresolved for years, as the $45 million project’s substantial completion date shifted from August 2012 to early 2014. Today, the museum honoring the Gulf Coast’s maritime industry has been issued a second 90-day temporary certificate of occupancy and is reported to be in its final stages of fit-out, but until last month, the dispute was left unresolved. In January 2011, Mississippi contractor W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company was awarded a $14 million contract for the museum’s structural work, the largest of about...

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Latest GulfQuest target opening date: six months after occupancy

From the outside, it’s hard to imagine why the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum isn’t open. The facade was completed in mid-2012, and since then the cranes and major construction equipment have been removed from the site. More recently, the parking lot was paved and striped, and the grounds landscaped. But take a step through the double glass doors at the front entrance and it’s a different story. The lobby is coming together, but just beyond, the “galley” of the museum — where visitors will be able to grab a bite to eat and watch the Gulf’s vessel traffic in...

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GulfQuest now aiming for summer opening

Mobilians and visitors alike will have to wait a little longer before exploring the wonders of the GulfQuest Maritime Museum it seems. Although then-City Attorney Larry Wettermark said on Oct. 22 the museum would open in “two or three months,” GulfQuest now looks like it won’t open until sometime this summer, Mayor Sandy Stimpson said at today’s City Council meeting. The opening date for the museum was originally pegged for July 2012. Subsequent target dates have been announced, but all have been moved back. Stimpson said today he is determined GulfQuest would hit its newest opening date, one that would leave it essentially two years behind schedule. “It is my understanding the estimated opening will be summer and the city will do every thing it can to fulfill that promise,” he said. “Right now there is a punch list of things that have not been done. However, there is not a contractor on site and the funds are expended. There is not a huge list of things to be done. It is on the edge of being completed.” Stimpson said he is ready for the day when visitors and citizens can explore the GulfQuest Maritime Museum. “I think it will be a huge step in the right direction when it is opened,” he said. If for some reason the city will need to spend more money on the museum,...

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GulfQuest change orders not a big deal, official says

Four change order requests before the Mobile City Council on Oct. 22 for the GulfQuest Maritime Museum are not indicative of the museum running over budget, a city official said today. On the agenda for the meeting, the council is being asked to approve moving four scopes of work to other contract companies. While there are large numbers attached to the work, City Attorney Larry Wettermark said the money has already been allocated, but the work needed to be moved to another contractor. “The requests are for shifting work from one contractor to another,” he said. “The money was already dedicated, so in essence it’s just reallocating the money.” Wettermark said there should be about $25,000 left in the contingency fund. When the city took out a 2009 bond for $21,390,00 for the museum, it was believed the museum would cost $24,390,00. The city was using $3 million to make up the difference. In 2011, the council approved another $3 million warrant after final costs were expected to exceed the first estimate. Of the $3 million bond, $2 million was budgeted while $1 million was reserved for “contingency.” On June 11, the council approved additional changes that used $967,811 of the $1 million contingency fund. This left only $32,189 in the fund. The new changes, if approved on Oct. 22, would use around $7,200 of that money. The first...

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