An estimated 11.6 tons of water weight fell on the Recreation Building’s roof during a storm Aug. 9, and officials heard Tuesday the city’s urban renewal agency has insurance on the structure, whose viability has been unknown since its roof began failing.
A structural engineer for the insurance company was due to inspect the building, downtown on East Second Street, this week.
A structural engineer for Todd Carpenter and Carla McQuade, who are buying the Recreation from the urban renewal agency, has already looked at the building and said the roof needs to be demolished.
The Dalles City Attorney Gene Parker told the Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Agency Tuesday the insurance policy could help with repairs, provided the building can be repaired.
A lot will depend on what structural engineers are able to determine, said Steve Harris, director of the Community Development Department of The Dalles. “We have barriers up, that was for safety. Now we will need an assessment, to see what needs to happen,” Harris said. He said it was unclear whether or not the building can be repaired or demolition would be required.
Carpenter and McQuade provided the board with a report detailing the demolition and restoration work already undertaken and events leading up to the building front sagging and threatening to collapse Aug. 17.
In early June, about half of the roof-patching project, which involved demolition and patch work, had been completed, Carpenter said.
Since then, repair of the east end building’s roof (the Empress Theater) was completed and sprinkler tested, with no leaks. Demolition of the interior was also completed, and they are ready to submit architectural drawings for the interior and the front facade, Carpenter reported. The middle building (the Horn Saloon) is about 60 percent demoed, and once the staircase in the back leading to the top floor is repaired they will be ready to submit drawings for that building as well.
While doing roof repair on the Recreation/bowling building on July 17, cracks in the support of the main “carrier arch” on the roof were uncovered. “We felt the best course of action was to post and shore up the roof from the interior along the support beam,” Carpenter said. “At that time, the arch was intact but we felt something needed to happen to shore up the roof and ensure the longevity of the structure.”
Lacking architectural drawings, bowling lanes directly under the beam on both floors had to be removed, so the structural supports from the basement concrete pads could be identified. That took several weeks, and the crew was scheduled to return Aug. 20 to continue the work.
But then it rained. On Aug. 9, nearly three inches of rain fell in 20 minutes, and four to six inches of rain and runoff pooled in a valley on the roof, Carpenter said. Carpenter estimated the water put a load on the roof of up to 11.6 tons.
By the next day, Aug. 10, most of the rain had drained away and on Aug. 11, a walk through the building found no issues, Carpenter said.
During the following week, however, staff noted “there were some noises coming from the bowling area,” Carpenter said. They were asked to stay out of that area. On Friday, Aug. 16, visual inspection showed a portion of the ceiling had dropped by between two to six inches.
On Saturday, Aug. 17, Carpenter again inspected the building and found the rafters had dropped about three feet and the nearest support beam had started separating. “I could hear audible creaking, and decided to leave the building,” he said.
After calling a contractor to ask for an immediate inspection, Carpenter said he reentered the building and discovered the ceiling had dropped far enough to break a sprinkler pipe at the back of the building. The city was contacted, and water was turned off at the street. The utility company was also contacted and power was shut off to the building as well.
It then became apparent that the front of the building facing Second Street was bowing out. After consulting with city staff, the sidewalk and right lane of the street were closed.
On Monday, Aug. 19, posting was added to stop the descent of the roof.
Carpenter said it was unclear what should next be done.
“When we took this on, it was a joint effort with the city to save, restore and use the buildings,” Carpenter said. “Together we should determine if the building can in fact be saved, and if so, how will the city help with a part of the building that has deteriorated to this level, due to an event no one guessed would have happened.” He added, “Carla and I are struggling to see an upside with the amount of money we have spent and intend to spend” on the project, given the flooding.
“We appreciate the opportunity to continue in partnership with the city and hope we can find a quick resolution that is safe and provides a benefit to the city and community,” he added.
Gary Grossman, chair of the agency board, thanked Carpenter and McQuade for the report. “Information gathering is key now, so keep us updated so we can see if there are things we can do to help,” he said.
Carpenter and McQuade own the Last Stop Saloon, in the building immediately west of the Recreation. They closed it out of caution on Saturday, Aug. 17, but have been back open since last Tuesday morning.
The Granada Theatre and its café are also open for business, Carpenter said.