Building repairs to the Spokane Valley City Hall council chamber east wall are underway as of last week with plans to be completed by Thanksgiving.
The Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday approved the allocation of $400,000 for the emergency repairs to the building, which are expected to be completed by the end of November.
Meridian Construction built the structure in 2016-17, but is not involved in any of the repair work. Within the first year after construction, the east council chamber wall exhibited signs of settlement related to cracking on the interior and exterior walls.
The city advised Meridian in 2018 of the foundation issues and the city contracted with LSB Engineers for structural analysis, Budinger and Associates for geotechnical analysis and Simpson Engineers for surveying.
That expert analysis revealed that improper soil compaction and improper foundation construction by Meridian and its subcontractor Piersol Construction is the reason for the settlement issues.
This issue exists at the east council chambers wall and is not present anywhere else in the structure.
The building is safe to occupy as determined by the consultants the city hired. The deficient work was apparently performed early in the construction process, during week 16 of the project, ending Sept.16, 2016.
Deputy City Manager John Hohman assured the public Tuesday that the building is safe.
“(The wall) is the only area of distress,” he said. “It’s just this particular area.”
The city was not aware of the deficient work until the cracking on the interior and exterior of the building could be seen in 2018. On Feb. 21, 2019, the city filed a claim against Meridian in hopes of working towards a resolution.
Over the past several months, the city’s consultants have worked with Meridian and Piersol’s consultants to develop a remedy to the foundation problems. These repairs will be performed by an independent construction company, Pacific Northwest Building Forensics and subcontractor Budinger & Associates.
“Meridian has no role in fixing the damage, and we expect 100-percent of the replacement costs,” Hohman said.
The remedy includes installing nine micro piles with brackets to the existing foundation wall. This system will stabilize the foundation by providing support deep into the native undisturbed soils underneath the building. This is a standard technique for foundation stabilization. The micro piles are 3.5-inches minimum diameter steel casings filled with rebar and grout that will extend over 30 feet down from ground level.
Landscaping in the vicinity will need to be removed and replaced, although the area will be left excavated to allow for positive drainage away from the building.
This is required due to the settlement of the wall and will be tied into the lawn area by a small retaining wall.
The Berry Picker sculpture will be temporarily removed and stored during this process. A full replacement and replanting of the landscape vegetation will likely occur in the spring.
Upon completion of this initial phase of work, a temporary wall will be installed in the back of the council chamber to allow for demolition of the damaged sheetrock and concrete floor slab. A structural inspection by the city’s consultants will then be completed to ensure no additional deficient items exist. If the inspection doesn’t reveal further issues, new sheetrock and concrete floor slab will be installed in the areas that were removed.
On the exterior, all cracked mortar will be repaired and all cracked bricks replaced.