Cajun Coast discusses building fixes
The Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau discussed plans to preserve and repair the Cajun Coast Welcome Center and Interpretive Facility in Morgan City Wednesday.
The $3.7 million building, which was nearing substantial completion, subsided several feet into the marsh it was supposed to feature June 14, resulting in damage to the slab and structure.
CCVCB attorney Gary McGoffin of Lafayette said over the last month, Cajun Coast representatives have been meeting with other involved parties, including the architect, structural engineer, geotechnical engineer and the contractor, as well as their attorneys and experts they have hired to address the issue.
He said, thus far, meetings have focused on repairing the structure quickly rather than laying blame for the problem, and this is the best possible option to avoid long periods of litigation before the building itself could be repaired.
“We have made good progress, as we have been meeting on a weekly basis, and the orientation of the group right now is, ‘how do we fix the problem’,” McGoffin said. “We have a cause and we have a cure, and litigation can take years to figure out the cause of the problem and no time is put in on the cure. We have been very fortunate that all these guys have stepped up and are very focused on getting this problem fixed.”
He said Cajun Coast did not have cost estimates for the possible avenues to repair the building, but they are expected by Aug. 3.
McGoffin explained there were also at least two possible methods being examined to repair the facility.
One alternative is to fix the structure in place.
Another is to get Expert House Movers of Discovery Channel fame “to come, pick the thing up, and move the building into the parking lot while we fix the foundation.”
“If we fix the building in place, there are ways to do that by cutting holes in the existing concrete deck and use a pile driver and a mini-pile driver in the building that will not damage walls or ceilings,” he said. “The building will be elevated and it will take about 60 jacks and 12 days to do that.”
In the meantime, McGoffin said there is more damage to the structure now than there was a month ago.
Doors are not opening as door frames are feeling the pressure and pinching in. There are also more cracks in the glass and sheetrock.
Some mold also was discovered in the structure.
One piece of good news for the commission Wednesday is that there appears to be no water intrusion observed from the open (attic) access in the ceiling and the roof seems to be intact.
In order to protect the building from further mold damage, there are plans to seal the building in plastic sheeting and tape as well as cool the inside of the structure with external portable air conditioning at a cost of $20,000.
McGoffin said an original thought was to level the external air conditioners to use them to cool the building to 80 degrees, but they realized if this was done, the air conditioners would then be on a grade when the building was lifted and leveled, so there are now plans to bring in separate portable AC units.
“As far as the building protection, at this point, the commission will advance those funds for it because someone has to, and we will have discussions later on as to who should have to pay for it,” McGoffin said. “You cannot litigate and negotiate at the same time, and right now, we are trying to figure out the cure first.”