Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Georgetown Neighborhood Library Rising from the Ashes

The District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) this morning held a pre-BID conference in the gutted interior of the Georgetown Neighborhood Library (GNL), which suffered severe fire damage in April of 2007. Full funding for the project has already been allotted by the DC government, but designs for proposed renovations and additions by architects Martinez & Johnson are still months away from completion.

In the meantime, DCPL and the construction manager for the project, Smoot Construction, are now offering contractors three different BID "packages" that can get underway in the coming weeks: hazardous material removal, historic salvage and protection, and supply of site facilities. Following final approval of the architectural designs, Smoot projects that 14-25 more packages will be advertised to facilitate a spring 2010 reopening. Library officials went on to assure the construction representatives in attendance that any current litigation pending against the DCPL will in no way affect the timetable or funds assigned to the project.

Proposed modifications to the original 1930s building include an addition to the library’s first floor, new stairways, elevators and internal systems, demolition of several existing walls, and the complete refurbishment of fire-damaged library accoutrements. Historic wood fixtures on site will be removed and restored off-site, while the library’s basement will also be reconfigured into a more user-friendly space. Luckily, the building’s facade suffered only minimal damage - the library’s concrete and steel skeleton and masonry walls rendered it essentially fireproof – and will not need significant restoration.

The initial cause of the 2007 fire was chalked up to faulty wiring. Capitol Hill's Eastern Market, which notoriously also caught fire on the very same day as the GNL, received $2 million to rebuild from the DC government two weeks ago.


Anonymous said...

Uh, don't blame the wiring...

Millions in Damages Sought Over Fire - Contractor That Led Renovation Was Negligent, City Alleges
Washington Post, The (DC) - August 23, 2007
Author: Susan Levine, Washington Post Staff Writer

The District is seeking more than $13 million in damages from the Hyattsville contractor that was heading the renovation of the Georgetown public library when a fire broke out there in late April.

Officials allege negligence on the part of Dynamic Corp., which was handling exterior improvements at the historic branch . A subcontractor for Dynamic was removing lead-based paint from second-floor windows, and it was workers' use of electric heat guns that District fire investigators concluded had ignited materials near the roofline on the south side.

The claim, filed with the District's Contract Appeals Board, was announced yesterday by D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer and David Gragan, director of the Office of Contracting and Procurement.

It covers $12 million in damages to the building's structure, nearly $112,000 for fire-damage restoration of books and other parts of the library 's regular collection, $4,000 for computers and technology, and other expenses. The cost to repair special materials, including the Peabody Collection, which documents Georgetown 's past through extensive records, is listed as a "value not yet determined."

"While the filing of this claim represents a mathematical calculation of the city's loss, the true loss is incalculable," Gragan said in a statement. The library , at 3260 R St. NW, remains closed.

Soon after the April 30 fire, Dynamic denied responsibility and said its workers and those with the subcontractor, Two Brothers Contracting Inc., had used wire brushes on the windows.

However, according to a letter sent last week by the contracting and procurement office to company President Ebenezer Adewunmi, evidence collected at the library included numerous heat guns and extension cords. At least two workers for the subcontractor confirmed in witness statements that the electrical devices were being used April 30 in the area where the fire began, the letter noted.

Investigators found cans of "extremely flammable" chemicals in that area.

Dynamic referred calls for comment yesterday to a Pennsylvania law firm. The lawyer there handling the case was on vacation and unavailable.

The company has 90 days to contest the claim before the appeals board, said Melissa Merz, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office. No damages are being sought from Two Brothers because "the contractor is responsible for the subcontractor," Merz said.

The Georgetown branch 's renovation and restoration are expected to cost more than $20 million. A library spokesman said yesterday that a solicitation for design proposals and bids should be issued by early next month.

IMGoph on Oct 15, 2008, 7:47:00 AM said...

and why do you have "BID" capitalized, like "business improvement district"? is that a typo?

Anonymous said...

The bid documents were so crappy, it will be a wonder of the Library people can sort out to whom to make the awards. The fun goes on.


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