Spokane Journal of Business

Structural issues persist at Spokane Valley City Hall

Forensic architect team studies building this month

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This article has been updated to include comments from Mark D’Agostino, president of Meridian Construction Inc., and the company’s attorney John Black.

A West Side forensic architectural company is studying structural damage at Spokane Valley City Hall as part of an ongoing lawsuit against builders and designers of the 3-year-old City Hall building.

The downtown Seattle-based company, Amento Group Inc., had a team of representatives at Spokane Valley City Hall earlier this month as part of the study, according to city attorney Cary Driskell.

Spokane Valley filed a lawsuit in April against Meridian Construction & Development Inc., a Spokane-based general contractor. The lawsuit states the building, at 10210 E. Sprague, sustained prominent cracks in concrete flooring, water damage in the council chamber, cracks and separation in drywall, and cracking of the mortar and brick on an outside circular wall.

Last fall, the city hired an outside consultant to address some of the issues, but extensive work remains to be done.

Spokane Valley deputy city manager John Hohman says the building has been determined to be “structurally safe,” but it has suffered “dramatic distress” from the outset.

Also named as a defendant is All West Testing & Engineering LLC, of Hayden, a full-service firm that offers professional engineering, environmental, and construction materials testing services. The company has a satellite office in Spokane Valley.

Other defendants are Architects West Inc., of Coeur d’Alene, and construction project consulting firm Eight31 Consulting LLC, of Liberty Lake.

Driskell says, “From our standpoint, things didn’t get done the way they needed to get done.”

However, Driskell adds that city officials have had constructive negotiations thus far about how to rectify the city’s concerns about the building.

“We’re actively working with the defendants to get this resolved,” he says.

John Black, a partner with Spokane-based Dunn & Black PS who is representing Meridian in this matter, disagrees with that assessment. He says Spokane Valley “opted out” of an agreement for all the contractors and subcontractors involved in fixes to the building.

“The complaint was a surprise to us,” says Black, adding that the city now is refusing to allow any of the contractors to make any necessary repairs.

Mark D’Agostino, Meridian’s president, asserts, “These were minor, simple warranty items. We don’t know of any additional major issues.”

Spokane Valley has retained the legal services of downtown Spokane-based law firm Randall & Danskin PS in its lawsuit.

Spokane Valley City Hall was built in 2017 at a total cost of $14.2 million and came in at $250,000 less than the 2014 budget that was established for the project, according to the city’s website.

The cost also included purchase of the 3.4-acre site, design, construction, related sales tax, furniture, fixtures, equipment, a full basement, landscaping, hardscaping, utility installation, and permit fees. The building’s total square footage is 65,700 square feet, according to the website.

Driskell says a total of about 80 employees continue to work in the building today.

The lawsuit also says that third-party consultants hired by the city have determined soils below the foundation of the northeast radiused (curved) wall were insufficiently compacted during construction. The city then hired a contractor to install multiple supports attached to the exterior of the wall to stabilize it.

“As a result of defendants’ respective breaches, plaintiff has incurred damages including, but not limited to, damages for investigation and consultant costs, repair and remediation expense and attorney’s fees, and costs in amounts to be proven at the time of arbitration,” says the lawsuit.

Driskell says the city is nearing the end of its study into the building’s structural damage and hopes to know repair costs soon.

“We’ll put the project out for bid so that we can provide the kind of building taxpayers paid for,” he says.

Kevin Blocker
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