Final repair stage ahead

Burbank Leader

DOWNTOWN — Burbank officials are gearing up for the final, $10.3-million stage of repairs to botched work on the $30-million police and fire headquarters, bringing the total cost to more than one-third of the price of the original building 12 years ago.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a fixed-fee, maximum price model because of the sensitive nature of the around-the-clock operations and the probability of encountering unknown conditions stemming from the original construction.

"That's what it's designed to do, for us to have more of a speak-easy in with all of the contractors, subcontractors and the architectural firms — kind of bringing us all together on the same page," said Assistant Public Works Director Ari Omessi.

The second phase of the project, slated to begin in the coming months, includes extensive waterproofing, repairs to the jail floor, walls, and plumbing and additional fireproofing under public lobbies.

Among the potentially problematic parts of the work will be the replacement of the jail floor, which will relocate inmates to neighboring facilities as when crews last worked on the concrete eight years ago.

Officials stressed that all of the botched work stemmed from the original construction. Kajima Construction Services was awarded a contract in September 1995 on the building at 200 N. Third St.

After it was completed three years later, firefighters found water damage in and around the shower area, according to a city report.

Officials also discovered water leaks from the parking structure, front stairs and street-facing windows, including from those installed backward.

Last year, the council, in a closed-door meeting, accepted a $3.16-million settlement offer from Kajima.

The first phase of construction included repairs to the vehicle ramp along Orange Grove Avenue, entry doors and windows, tower and museum windows, public floors and lobbies.

While removing limestone flooring in the lobby, workers discovered that the structural concrete slab had been ground down by 1.5 inches, leaving the floor too weak to safely support the building's weight. They brought the load-bearing capacity from roughly 80 pounds per square foot to 110 pounds per square foot, officials said.

On Tuesday, City Council members implored officials to bargain hard for what has already been a costly endeavor.

The fixed-fee strategy enables city officials to better manage change orders since builders would have to specify costs before construction with a guaranteed cap.

"Go out there and really twist those arms because we really want good pricing and this is a big project," Councilman David Gordon said. "We might just do well."

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