LACONIA — After completing its assessment of the condition of the downtown parking garage, Dubois & King, Inc. has estimated the cost of repairs required to ensure long-term use of the facility at $1.2 million.
In October the parking garage was closed when initial inspections found that the structural steel supporting the ramps were weakened by corrosion from exposure to water and salt. Emergency repairs were made to open the garage to the second level, but the third level has remained closed.
City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday discussions currently underway about what represents "long-term use" measured in number of years and what annual maintenance costs would be incurred to optimize the life of the facility.
Furthermore, renovation of the garage will be complicated by the curious ownership of the facility, which is itself in flux. Ownership of the garage is shared between the city and a private party, Downtown Crossing LLC, whose principle is Daniel Disangro of Rosindale, Massachusetts. The publicly owned portion of the garage includes the ramps and north end of the second and third levels, including the northernmost stairwell.
Downtown Crossing owns the ground floor of the garage, except for the ramps, and the south end of the second and third levels, including the southernmost stairwell. In addition, Downtown Crossing also owns the commercial space on the ground floor housing Grace Capital Church, the Soda Shoppe and several small businesses. The second level deck of the garage, two-thirds of which is owned by the city, serves as the roof for the privately owned commercial space on the ground level.
Downtown Crossing is negotiating the sale of its commercial space, which will include its share of the garage, to Genesis Behavioral Health. Dubois & King, Inc. prepared an assessment of the privately owned portion of the garage for Genesis, which has not yet been made available to The Laconia Daily Sun.
Myers said that to restore the structural integrity of the entire complex, any repairs would have to be undertaken in coordination with the city and the private owner.
The garage was built in 1974 and provides some 220 parking spaces, about 180 of which are owned by the city. Dubois & King Inc. noted it is unique in two respects. First, parking garages with exposed steel framing and decking are rare in the Northeast, where repeated salting and sanding of roads hastens corrosion, which causes them to weaken and fail. Second, the commercial space on the ground level has no roofing system separate from the parking deck above, which has leaked over most of the life of the garage, requiring continual maintenance by the Department of Public Works.
Dubois & King found the structure of the ramps in poor to very poor condition, describing the ramps as "highly susceptible to failure or collapse." The emergency repairs made in October, the report noted, represent a "temporary solution and should be inspected an re-evaluated in 6 months." Since drainage throughout much of the second and third levels of the garage is poor, the consequent leakage corrodes and weakens the steel deck forms along with supporting beams and columns. Finally, the report noted that the decking and framing above the commercial spaces cannot be completed until fireproofing material is removed.
The major recommended permanent repairs include replacing or strengthening the decks and repairing the steel on the ramps, repairing steel beams and columns, replacing pavement and removing and reapplying paint to exposed steel.
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