A Wollongong City councillor says the long-awaited Crown Street Mall refurbishment has already fallen behind schedule - and work hasn't even started yet.
Liberal councillor Michelle Blicavs yesterday blamed an extended tender process for pushing the original start date for the works, which she understood to be February 1, out by up to two weeks.
Cr Blicavs said councillors had agreed on the need to sign off on the full suite of tenders for the mall refurbishment before demolition works began, but with such works due to begin on February 1, the tenders would have needed to be presented to the January 29 meeting.
The timing would have allowed councillors to approve the main construction tender and two subsequent tenders in time for work to begin three days later.
However, a council administration decision to have the main construction tender close tomorrow has forced council consideration of the contracts to be moved back to the February 11 meeting.
The earliest date works will be able to begin is February 12.
Cr Blicavs said the slow start was concerning.
"A 12-day delay is a 12-day delay," she said.
"We know so many factors can delay or interrupt construction timelines, especially longer periods of wet weather.
"This puts us behind the eight ball already."
Cr Blicavs said the refurbishment was governed by strict time frames that only allowed construction between February and October, and every day counted.
"The community has an expectation that the council will deliver the mall refurbishment on time," she said.
"I understand that this is a very complex and costly staged development; however, every day we delay starting the refurbishment could be a delay in when it is finished."
A council spokesperson denied suggestions the project was already behind schedule, saying the council would work to meet the October 2014 completion date.
Cr Blicavs said councillors would receive a briefing on the tenders on February 4. She has not ruled out calling an extraordinary council meeting later that week to bring the start date forward.