Gaillard contractors tackle errors while residents cover ears

Workers with Carolina Stone Setting Co. of Cary, N.C., place bluestone pieces Tuesday at the entrance to the new Gaillard Center.

Construction fixes on The Gaillard Center have made for noisy weekends recently for Ansonborough residents.

The Charleston neighborhood was awakened around 8 a.m. Saturday to the banging sound of bush hammers scraping plaster off the front of the building. The previous weekend, they were rousted by construction equipment breaking up the concrete plaza near the building's entryway.

Dustin Clemens, the city's director of capital projects, said subcontractors for Skanska Trident, the company managing the project, had to redo the plaster and concrete work.

The $142 million project to renovate and expand the Gaillard has hit several construction snags, prompting Charleston Mayor Joe Riley in November to announce the city wouldn't make its April completion date. City leaders had hoped to complete the project in time for Spoleto Festival USA in May. Instead, they announced the project won't be done until the end of the summer.

Clemens said the most recent construction mishaps won't further delay the project, and the cost of the repairs won't fall to the city.

The plaster work problem centered around concave corners on the facade of the building along George Street, Clemens said. When three of them were installed, they were a little bit out of line with the stone work about them. To make it right, some of the plaster had to be removed and reinstalled.

Overall, Clemens said, the error affected only a very small percentage of the plaster on the building's facade.

Horus Construction Services, the subcontractor doing the work, will make the repairs, he said.

Also, the concrete plaza, which connects the sidewalk to the George Street entrance, was not poured to the correct height, Clemens said. So it had to be torn up and repoured. Subcontractor Deco Concrete has poured new concrete and workers currently are installing bluestone on top of it.

Clemens said the portion of the Gaillard Center that will house city offices, which runs along the George Street side of the building, will be done by late February or early March. City employees will begin moving in while construction continues on the performance hall and exhibit space.

The city will complete landscaping along George Street before employees move in, he said. But they can't begin that work until the plaster and concrete repairs are done.

Angela Drake, president of the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, said last weekend was tough for residents.

Work was being done on the Gaillard, a small park on the corner of Anson and Laurens streets, and a home on Laurens Street. "The three worlds collided," she said. It was very loud.

She said she hopes in the future, city leaders communicate better and limit the number of construction projects going on at the same time on weekends.

They also should be more considerate of the time at which they do loud work. "Please don't start at 8 a.m. on a Saturday with the jackhammers," she said.

Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.