The $23.9 million project to demolish the old Guilford County jail and build a new Sheriff’s Department administrative complex in downtown Greensboro has come to a screeching halt.

Just before midnight on Thursday, March 2, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to end the contract with Samet Corp., which had been awarded the job.

The only publicly stated reasons the county has provided is that it was “due to a change in the working relationship” and that “the working relationship was disrupted by an incident that was wholly inconsistent with Guilford County’s commitment to its core values.”

Samet states that the rift grew in part because the county improperly demanded more minority subcontractor participation after the project had already been set and approved by the county.

On Thursday, March 2, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to terminate the contract with Samet, and county officials are now preparing to find another construction company to complete the job.

On Monday, March 6, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said the county is taking the necessary steps to get the project back on track.

“The first thing is demolishing the old jail,” Alston said.

Phase 1 of the project, which includes preparing that structure for demolition, is largely complete.

The new headquarters and additional parking area have been on the county’s plate for a long time.  Long before this giant snafu, Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers was pleading for the county commissioners to move faster on the project – which was going to last into 2024 before – and now there won’t even be a new timeline until a new contractor is named.

“It’s already been five years,” Alston said of the effort to get the project going.

Alston said that there may be some overlap of subcontractors who were working on the previous contract and that may work under the new one.  He said that, however, will depend on which firms the next contractor uses.

Some have suggested that, due to inflation and the logistics of rebidding the contract, the project will be costlier than planned.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily true,” Alston said, adding that when firms take a job as construction manager at risk, they typically include a liberal price bump that covers contingencies.

He said the next provider found in the coming selection process may not be as costly as Samet.

Alston said he wasn’t aware of whether there would be legal action from Samet but he said his concerns are with the county’s next actions since the project badly needs to move forward.