Culture News

Construction on The Irish Cultural Center's Research Library Delayed After Death of General Contractor

Officials behind the scenes at the Irish Cultural Center announced today that the construction of its new research library will be delayed due to the recent death of a "key figure" involved in the project.

Bernie Velez, the general contractor for the $3.5 million project, passed away after a heart attack in late July. According to architect Paul Ahern, who designed the research library, Velez's death is a "significant blow" to the building process and will "almost certainly cause a delay in construction" for a month or more. 

"It's a very big impact, professionally-speaking, as he had a lot influence in the project," Ahern says. "We lost a better part of a month in the process of transitioning to a new general [contractor]."

Ahern says that Double AA Builders of Scottsdale will now oversee the project. The 15,000-square-foot research library, originally scheduled to be completed in January, will house more than 6,000 books and be used for those of Irish descent to research their genealogy.

While Ahern says that a revised timetable for the building's opening hasn't been determined, he's hoping that "the library will be substantially complete by Saint Patrick's Day" in time for the center's annual festival and parade.

"It won't be done by then, but it should look like a library," Ahern says.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.