The University of California, Merced 2020 Project P3 represents a ‘sliding doors’ moment on various levels for myself, the firm and our client. I first engaged with the project from Australia with a long-term sell-side client who was pursuing the project and called upon my assistance with the lenders due diligence. I answered the call and promptly (well, as promptly as US immigration allows) got myself and my family to California to make-it-happen.
3 months in, our client withdrew from the pursuit. 3 months in, our US venture was all but over, but in the weeks following that decision the University solicited Owners Representative services for the same 2020 project. Through the most incredible 6 week proposal period of my life, I worked with a sparse network of friends-of-friends, colleagues and industry partners to assemble a team that would ultimately be successful in dispossessing some of the most revered industry names from their incumbency on the project.
I would learn after the appointment that the differentiation in our offer was not price, or in fact past applicable projects. It was the interview process where we walked through some of the lessons learned and often untold ugliness that can be encountered by clients undertaking major P3 projects for the first time. The University valued honesty and candor, rather than salesmanship and motherhood statements.
This set the tone for an incredible relationship – a partnership. A partnership that was WT team members (including myself) relocated to the Merced, CA to get stuck in, sit next to the University team and build a Project Organization which would go on to encounter various challenges and hurdles but ultimately prevail in the delivery of a $1.3bn ‘never been done before’ project, encompassing 12 buildings delivered on time and on budget over 4 years.
The University had vision, but they needed an implementation partner that could deliver that vision. I am proud not only that we delivered it, but also our approach to becoming Bobcats and investing the care and attention that this critical project deserved.
Another notable mention:
Ravenhall Prison Project P3 was – and still is – a trailblazer in the world of corrections and rehabilitation. The 1,300 bed prison at some $670m was one of the first newly purpose-built prisons in the State of Victoria for two decades. Importantly, this was the first of its kind to include Operational Services under a DBFOM as well as ground-breaking financial incentives for the Development group to reduce recidivism. This led to a complex and comprehensive bid process which saw development of an incredibly diverse program of space including a mental health facility, tertiary education teaching spaces and ground breaking technology for prisoner management.
Advising the consortia and lending group through the unprecedented bidding process and then being appointed as Independent Reviewer jointly to the State and ProjectCo was an incredible opportunity to see this key project be realized.
The Sunshine Coast University Hospital P3 is an incredible tertiary teaching hospital with some 738 beds, $1.8bn AUD and completed in under 4 years.