5 April 2024

Project Coordination now owes $25 million, more projects impacted

| Ian Bushnell
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Project Coordination MD Gavin Murphy said they had called in administrators after failing to find the capital needed to keep going despite ongoing projects and a solid pipeline of work. Photo: Supplied.

The new $16 million Bega Police Station and Banksia Lodge in Broulee are two South Coast projects caught up in the collapse of Project Coordination.

Administrators have also identified two more ACT Project Coordination projects affected by the failure of the 50-year-old Canberra building company.

An update from the first creditors meeting on Tuesday (2 April) also said administrators RSM Australia had received about 200 formal creditor claims valued at more than $25 million.

Partner Jonathon Colbran said the number of creditors and value of claims would continue to evolve over the course of the administration.

He said that as well as the original 14 projects found – 10 in the ACT and four in NSW – there was also one at the design stage and another where practical completion had not been formally achieved, but the owner had already taken possession.

READ ALSO Award-winning builder Project Coordination collapses, owing $20 million

The administrators have not formally identified the 16 projects, but in the ACT, they include a $12 million government project to build a conservatory at the Australian National Botanic Gardens that was due to be completed by the middle of the year, the almost complete Gungahlin College expansion, a noise remediation project at the Nishi building in NewActon and a townhouse development in Narrabundah.

A refurbishment of the Fitzroy pavilion at Exhibition Park was at the design stage.

Care Manager Helen Clarke, Banksia’s CEO Graham Wise and Project Manager Liz Paterson-Finlay at the start of construction work. Photo: Facebook.

The four NSW projects include a new $16 million Bega police station, two small households, a cafe, and improved connections between the inside and outside spaces at Banksia Lodge aged care at Broulee.

More than 70 creditors — mainly sub-contractors and suppliers — attended the meeting online or in-person in Canberra.

“By their very nature, these meetings are tough for everyone involved,” Mr Colbran said.

“No business wants to owe money and no individual or business wants to be out-of-pocket for their services. Despite the challenging situation, the meeting was productive and constructive.”

render of Hovering Cube at the Botanical Gardens

The Ian Potter Conservatory at the Australian National Botanic Gardens, or Hovering Cube, is a pristine box clad in a layered skin to optimise environmental performance and provide a stable climate for the plants. It is now delayed indefinitely. Photo: McGregor Coxall.

Mr Colbran told creditors the administrators had secured all company assets, including bank accounts, project sites and equipment at the company’s Canberra and Wollongong offices, upon their appointment on 19 March 2024.

He said about a quarter of projects that were at various stages of construction as the company went into voluntary administration had taken steps to restart operations.

Mr Colbran said Project Coordination company directors had been assisting the administrators by providing access to company systems, records and accounts, and supporting their liaison with project principals and subcontractors to help restart projects as quickly as possible.

He said the administration may need to be extended, given the complexity of the situation.

“This is a complex administration based on the size of the company, its operational footprint across two states, and its current project contractual arrangements. Our priority is to recover and preserve company assets and maximise their value for the ultimate benefit of creditors. This takes time,” he said.

“Given this, I flagged with creditors that the Administrators are exploring the possibility of extending the administration process, which would impact the delivery date of our report to creditors and the next meeting. No decision has been made yet, but there was no objection at the meeting.

“We will update creditors in due course regarding the proposed way forward regarding a possible extension of the administration.”

READ ALSO Canberra developer plans 250-unit project on Bunnings site in Ulladulla

The father-and-son directors of Project Coordination, chairman Paul Murphy and managing director Gavin Murphy, said they had called in administrators after failing to find the capital needed to keep going despite ongoing projects and a solid pipeline of work.

They said the decision was soul-destroying.

Seventy-two-year-old company patriarch Paul Murphy said he was devastated.

“The economic and regulatory environment that building companies are working in now is more challenging than any other I’ve experienced in the past 50 years – worse than the recessions in the 1980s and 1990s and the Global Financial Crisis in 2007-2008. Nothing has been as bad as this,” he said.

Original Article published by Ian Bushnell on Riotact.

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