Architect’s Estimates Raise Potential Price Tag For Cordell Hull Repairs

The new study was charged with cataloging any repairs that would be needed in the next twenty years, so it includes items ranging from urgent repairs of crumbling drainage tiles  to replacing mechanical units that will likely be fine for the next decade. Credit: Nina Cardona/WPLN

The new study was charged with cataloging any repairs that would be needed in the next twenty years, so it includes items ranging from urgent repairs of crumbling drainage tiles to replacing mechanical units that will likely be fine for the next decade. Credit: Nina Cardona/WPLN

The state’s Cordell Hull office building seems to be in better shape than previously thought. Even so, new estimates say it could cost as much as $76 million to repair and keep using it and a neighboring structure. That’s almost twice the initial figures that lead Governor Bill Haslam to ok plans for demolishing both structures.

The first study was questioned because the real estate firm that conducted it stood to benefit from closing the buildings. It, and earlier evaluations of the structure, painted a picture of deferred maintenance and shoddy construction.

This time, an architectural firm did the examination. It found that a portion of the roof on the Cordell Hull needs replacing, as do the drainage structures around the foundation. But much of the work it calls for is about modernizing the sixty-year old building and bringing it up to current codes, like increasing the load-bearing capacity in elevator lobbies and removing asbestos-laden floor tiles.

The nearby Central Services building does not fare as well. It has more significant structural problems throughout, including a failing roof that must be entirely replaced.

The report specifies that the total price tag is a worst-case scenario. It includes a 20% contingency to cover any unforeseen problems. Additionally, it details roughly $18 million worth of work that might not be necessary.

For example, the firm could not determine the condition of the anchors holding the stone veneer in place on the Cordell Hull’s building’s exterior. In an attempt to be thorough, the estimate includes the cost of the complicated repairs that could be necessary if further imaging shows that the anchors are, indeed failing. At the same time, it points out that the tell-tale signs of damage are missing, seeming to indicate that it’s unlikely that $6 million dollar job will be needed.

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