Builders to pay Glendale $4.9M for shoddy school complex construction

Contractors have agreed to pay the city of Glendale $4.9 million for defective construction in a settlement that ends a years-long legal battle over responsibility for water damage that has plagued the Edison Elementary School-Pacific Park complex.

City Atty. Mike Garcia described the agreement — reached Thursday and expected to be finalized in the coming days — as a “good result.”

“The city and the city attorney’s office took this matter seriously to try and recover what we needed to repair the building,” Garcia said.

The lead defendants in the case, FEDCON General Contractors, Leidenfrost Horowitz & Associates/GKK Works architects and C.W. Driver Contractors, will be responsible for the majority of the settlement costs, with a handful of subcontractors absorbing the rest, Garcia said.

The contractors were responsible for executing a $44-million, joint-use project between the city and the Glendale Unified School District at Vine Street and Pacific Avenue.

Construction crews broke ground on the Edison School-Pacific Park Neighborhood Improvement Project in June 2001. A little more than a year later, the new facility — comprised of a school, library, community center, sports field and neighborhood police facility — opened its doors.

The construction held up until the 2006-07 winter season, when heavy rain storms resulted in leaks and water damage, Garcia said.

“We started to notice that the gym floor was starting to have bubbles,” he said.

Additional inspections revealed that water was seeping into the facility not only through the floor, but also through the roof, walls, windows and doors, according to city officials. Leaks in the library meant that drywall and carpeting became soaked whenever it rained heavily.

“It was coming in from a lot of different places,” Garcia said.

The city attorney’s office filed suit in December 2007, but officials held off on repairing the construction defects until a settlement was reached. The facilities remained open and in use.

“With the resolution of this lawsuit, our children and the community at large will have a gymnasium and a library that they can use without damage or interruption from water intrusion,” Mayor Laura Friedman said in a statement Tuesday.

The $4.9-million settlement will cover legal and consultant costs that the city incurred in bringing the lawsuit, as well the repairs needed to shore up the defective construction, Garcia said.