Bee Cave City Hall has been plagued with water leaks and other troubles that started shortly after city officials moved into the 30,000-square-foot building in the Hill Country Galleria five years ago.
City Hall, off Texas 71, cost $5.5 million to build. So far, the city has spent another $2.65 million to fix the leaks and other problems in the building, city finance director Katherine Griffin said. And more construction fixes are scheduled this summer.
Bee Cave officials say they’re confident those will be the last repairs for the building, which houses the municipal court, library and community meeting space, among other city offices.
In 2011, the city settled a lawsuit against building’s architecture firm, contractor and other parties for $2 million. All told, repair costs are expected to reach about $2.8 million.
City Administrator Frank Salvato said the city selected Browning Construction to build City Hall because it submitted the lowest bid and chose Fort Worth architecture and engineering firm Freese and Nichols based on the firm’s qualifications.
In the city’s May 2010 lawsuit against the builder and architect and subcontractors, the city said that after moving into the building, city employees began noticing multiple leaks when it rained. The city said also in the document that the building was “riddled with defects and was not completed in accordance with the contract documents” and the “building suffers from multiple and significant defects in the design provided by Freese and Nichols.”
According to the lawsuit, the city said the defects in the building should have been discovered before construction was completed.
Browning Construction didn’t respond to calls seeking comment, and a Freese and Nichols official declined to comment, citing the settlement, in which all sides agreed not to divulge the details. The settlement documents, obtained by the American-Statesman under the Texas Public Information Act, don’t say which parties were at fault.
Over the years, Freese and Nichols worked on other projects for the city, including the Bee Cave Parkway project.
City Council Member Bill Goodwin said city officials believed the $2 million settlement was going to cover the cost of the repairs. However, additional problems have cropped up since the settlement.
The repairs this summer, which are expected to cost $140,000, will go through a bidding process and require City Council approval. The repairs will fix design detail issues at the base of walls, where water is penetrating the building.
“I never regarded this as a lack of oversight by city staff or city inspectors,” Goodwin said. “City inspectors inspect for code compliance. These problems were not caused by code violations. These were poor building practices, and it really wasn’t the city’s responsibility to verify the work was going into place as per the contract.”
After rainstorms in recent weeks, new leaks formed in the library and an office. Those will be fixed this summer, Salvato said.
“We thought we had the end of the issues,” Salvato said. “We’re hoping and praying this is it.”