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Friday, April 3, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane Valley City Hall’s outer wall no longer sinking but extent of damage unknown

John Hohman, Spokane Valley deputy city manager, talks Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, about the structural issues at City Hall. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
John Hohman, Spokane Valley deputy city manager, talks Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, about the structural issues at City Hall. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

An outside wall of Spokane Valley’s City Hall is no longer sinking, but it could be a month or more before officials know the full extent of the damage.

The $14 million building was completed in 2017. Officials hope it will someday be the heart of a municipal center across the street from Balfour Park and a future library.

The city filed a claim last year against Meridian Construction, the company that constructed City Hall, because the front facing wall of the building, where the name of the building hangs, started to sink.

The main structure of city hall, which has not had issues, and the curved front wall have separate foundations.

City staff members believe the soil underneath the wall foundation was not properly compacted and that settling soil caused that area to sink about two inches, cracking the wall where it connects with the rest of the building.

Ten micro-piles were installed in October to stop the sinking. Deputy City Manager John Hohman says they have worked so far.

Hohman said it may be awhile before the wall is fixed. The forensic structural engineering firm the city hired will need two days to open up the walls and floor to inspect the structure.

The firm will take an additional three to four weeks to write a report on the damage, which could be limited to the front wall and foundation but may have spread to the City Council chamber’s ceiling.

“What they’ll have to figure out is what needs to be done with the structure, the brick and the sheet rock inside to make it as good as it should have been the first time around,” Hohman said.

Once the city has a report on the full extent of damage, city staff will be able to make a timeline and plan to repair it.

The wall and the floor have been opened up so the firm the city hired can get a better view of the damage. Those openings have been hidden by a temporary wall, which will likely remain up for the next few months.

On Tuesday night, Councilwoman Linda Thompson asked for some sort of decoration, such as paint, art by local children or a mural, to cheer up the room.

Hohman said the city does plan on painting the wall with a light color to brighten the room, but has not yet made a decision on other art or a mural because it does not yet know how long the wall will be there.

The City Council authorized staff to spend $400,000 last fall on an investigation and repair of the wall.

The company Spokane Valley hired to build City Hall will not participate in the repairs, but its insurance company is expected to reimburse the city for costs incurred.

Spokane Valley City Attorney Cary Driskell said the goal is to get the building that taxpayers expected as soon as possible.

“It’s frustrating for us,” Driskell said. “Really, it is a beautiful, functional building and we just want this to be done, for our benefit, the citizens’ benefit and the council’s, so we can just have the building that we thought we were going to get.”

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