With two engineering reports calling for immediate demolition of part of the Recreation Building downtown, a special meeting is set for Wednesday to authorize the demolition.
The special meeting of the Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Agency board is set for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11, at City Hall, 313 Court St.
During demolition, both lanes and sidewalks of East Second Street in front of the building would likely need to be closed, The Dalles City Council heard Monday from Community Development Director Steve Harris.
The Recreation Building was posted as a “dangerous building” Aug. 30 due to the partial collapse of the roof at the west end and partial separation of the outer wall from the structure.
Three demolition bids have been secured, based on the need to remove the partially collapse roof and the East 2nd Street exterior wall, and the work is anticipated to take two to three weeks, said Harris. By declaring an emergency, the urban renewal board will be able to authorize a contract for the work to begin immediately, he said.
According to a report by Darrin O. Eckman, P.E. of Tenneson Engineering Corporation, the roof system has been compromised to the point that it has become dangerous and must be removed in a controlled fashion. “Failure to do so will likely result in sudden and catastrophic collapse of the roof system with that collapse possibly also causing the north and south walls to collapse as well, and also possibly doing damage to adjacent building walls. A sudden and catastrophic collapse could also cause the main floor system of the Rec Building to be damaged and/or collapse as well,” Eckman said in his report.
The Tenneson report, commissioned by building owner Todd Carpenter, was one of two addressing the partial collapse of the building in August provided to the council.
The second report, by EFI Global, Inc., was prepared at the request of a CIS insurance adjuster, which insured the building for the urban renewal agency.
Both engineering inspection reports emphasized the need to immediately demolish the roof and other portions of the building, including the outer wall facing Second Street, as a matter of public safety.
Although both reports referenced the Aug. 9-10 “rain event,” which may have partially triggered the collapse of the roof Aug. 17, both reports noted structural issues were present prior to Aug. 9.
Kirk Vance, a forensic engineer with EFI Global, Inc., reported that the estimated load experienced during the rain event, even if all drainage off the roof were clogged, was insufficient to cause the failure of a properly designed and maintained roof in otherwise good condition. “The failure is thus attributed to long-term deterioration of truss components due to lack of maintenance,” he reported. He added that the “out-of-plumb” condition of the front facade, the top of which has a 12-to-16-inch gap between the wall and the building, resulted from the beam and truss failure, which pushed the top of the wall outward. Vance added that the “condition of the front facade poses and immediate safety risk to pedestrians and vehicles on 2nd St.” He said shoring installed to support the failed beam and truss is inadequate. “The subject structure should be demolished or properly shored immediately,” he concluded.
Harris said city staff were in discussions regarding the loss, policy coverage, and history of the building. He told the council the property was purchased by the urban renewal agency in 2010 with the intention of demolishing the building and incorporating the property into a proposed hotel development.
Carpenter told the Chronicle Tuesday, “Time is of the essence.” He and wife Carla McQuade own the Last Stop Saloon immediately west of the Recreation, and “Our business is down by 40 percent. I’m sure that other businesses are having the same issue, so it’s a killer.”
Ever since the roof’s destabilization was discovered, the right lane in front of the Recreation has been closed.
As for Carpenter and McQuade’s work on the Recreation, Carpenter said, “Everything’s on hold right now, we’re not doing any work over there until we can figure out what we’re going to do moving forward.
“It’s not that the other two buildings are not safe,” he said of the trio of buildings behind the Recreation façade, which was built in the 60s. Instead, the original scope of work was only for a remodel/restoration, but now it’s a demolition/rebuild for part of the building, “so that’s the hard part.”
“We’re devastated,” he said. “It hurts. It’s really sad and disappointing that that happened.”
Acting quickly is critical, Carpenter said. “The last thing we want to happen is another event that drops that roof. We’ve temporarily braced it inside, but that’s about all we could do without being unsafe” for workers.
As for the eventual use of the buildings, Carpenter said, “We’re waiting to see what’s going on because I don’t even know now, honestly, just kind of lost about the usage because we had plans for that side of the building and now I don’t know really what makes sense anymore.”
A controlled demolition means taking the roof down without it falling, Carpenter said. “They need to remove the roof to look at the structural integrity of everything below it,” he said. “It could be a single-phase project but it may not be. It just depends on the deterioration level.”