04/19/11 — Arts Council building needs many repairs

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Arts Council building needs many repairs

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on April 19, 2011 1:46 PM

A preliminary report given to the City Council at Monday night's work session indicates the building the city was considering buying for its proposed Air Force museum will require extensive repairs to windows and the overall structure of the building.

"It's going to be expensive," said engineer Jerry Hodge, who was hired to perform the structural analysis of the building at 2406 E. Ash St.

While the preliminary report had no dollar amounts, estimates or recommendations, Building Inspector Ed Cianfarra said it was important for the council to know where the inspection's progress was. He and Hodge said the final report should come by the end of the month. The council's next meeting is May 2, eight days before the deadline the city set to allow adequate time for a conservator to examine the building.

Two months ago, the board loosely agreed to purchase the building for some $600,000. A document signed Feb. 8 states that a final decision on whether or not to buy the facility need not be reached until Aug. 1 and allows for a 90-day examination period, during which the city can cancel the contract "for any reason, or for no reason."

While the most visible and most discussed topic of Hodge's presentation concerned cracked windows in the building's exterior, Cianfarra said it wasn't just a case of errant rocks leading to the breaks.

"What we want the council to know is that it's more than just broken glass," he said, following Hodge's presentation.

Hodge explained that the glass and frames of the windows were one issue leading to the repeatedly cracking glass, but that the structure was also to blame. Because of its rigid design, it puts pressure on the windows, meaning the expansion and contraction coming from temperature changes was enough to crack the windows. The Wayne County Arts Council had replaced the windows recently, but Hodge said they had all already re-cracked.

Hodge suggested the true answer to the window problem was redoing the ceiling.

"You'll need to remove the glass and most likely frames and tear out the ceiling too," he said.

District 5 Councilman Chuck Allen asked if getting a stronger glass, like tempered glass, would be an easier, less expensive solution, but Hodge said it would be a waste.

"I wouldn't spend the money. If you can't do both of them, I wouldn't do it," he said, recommending that window and structural repair were necessary.

"Once you correct your frames, you'll have to correct the original design of the building," Cianfarra said later, adding that there was no way to know how easily, or costly, corrections of that nature would be. "That's our biggest problem right now."

As far as the ability of the ceilings to hold suspended fiberglass replicas of aircraft, Hodge said he had not been given any figures to check. Cianfarra said the replicas generally range from 800 to 1,000 pounds, and that analysis of that concept would be available in the final report. He also said the building's plaster ceilings made it difficult to gauge what they could support.

Cianfarra said there would be no recommendations until the full report was issued.