JCP Construction selected as general contractor for DNC

Milwaukee-based American Design Inc. joins convention construction team

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Milwaukee-based JCP Construction LLC will play a major role in preparing downtown Milwaukee for one of the largest events the city has ever hosted.

The firm has been named construction general contractor for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and is part of a team responsible for building out Fiserv Forum and surrounding property for the convention, taking place July 13 to 16, the event’s national organizing committee announced Monday. 

Leading that team is Lanham, Maryland-based Hargrove as event management firm, overseeing JCP as well as Kansas City, Missouri-based event architect Populous, which has partnered with Milwaukee-based American Design Inc. 

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JCP was founded in 2008 by brothers James, Jalin, and Clifton Phelps. The business has had a hand in several of the city’s recent major construction projects including Fiserv Forum and Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons.

“We are pleased to be named the construction general contractor for the upcoming Democratic National Convention being held at Fiserv Forum this summer,” said James Phelps, president of JCP Construction. “This is an historic moment for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the Midwest. The opportunity to be a part of this event is further recognition of our leadership in this industry and commitment to be an inclusive employer in our city.” 

Since it was formed, the convention’s local host committee has touted efforts to put on the most diverse and inclusive DNC in party history, with plans to contract diverse-owned, local businesses and ensure the DNC’s estimated $200 million in economic impact benefits the entire area, not just the immediate downtown.

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As a local minority-owned business, JCP fits the bill for the DNC’s diverse contracting initiatives. American Design Inc. is also minority owned, according to its website.

Populous’ lead event architect for the project will be associate principal Lisa Opper, who is a native of Wisconsin. 

“The city of Milwaukee has a tremendous amount to showcase when we welcome the convention this summer and I am pleased that will include the local expertise and talent that has been selected as part of the Democratic National Convention Committee’s construction and event management teams,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “I look forward to seeing how this visionary group ensures the character of our city permeates this historic event.”

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Joe Solmonese, CEO of Democratic National Convention Committee said the construction and event management team “perfectly blends the experience, creative vision, and ties to the community necessary to craft an experience that breaks the mold and brings everyone in.” 

Barrett and other DNC officials have previously said that millions of dollars will be invested in the arena’s infrastructure during the months leading up to the convention. Final plans could include reconfiguring portions of the interior of Fiserv Forum to build out the stage and maximize seating capacity. The arena’s layout will be returned to its original form after the convention ends.  

“The specifics of the plans for Fiserv Forum and the convention complex are still in development,” the DNCC said. 

Some preliminary work has already begun, but a full build out wouldn’t begin until the DNC is contracted to take over the building. That time period begins May 24 or “one day after the last 2020 regular season or playoff home game played by the Milwaukee Bucks,” according to the city’s agreement with convention organizer groups. 

The possibility of another Bucks playoff appearance has raised concerns about a shortened pre-DNC timeline, but organizers remain confident that it wouldn’t pose a real threat.

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