Catapult 2.0: Post-Irma Update

By: Steve Scruggs
September 30, 2017 

Devastated

No word, or words, can really describe the feeling you get when something you have spent two years of your life planning, designing, nurturing, and restoring is damaged beyond repair.

Hearing the experts say words like “condemnation,” “life safety,” and “complete loss” put me in a state of shock. How can a building in Florida, that is almost 100 years old and survived multiple hurricanes fail now? What happened?  Are you sure we can’t fix it?

Those are the questions that were hitting me like a 100 mph wind gust from Hurricane Irma during a walk through with engineers, architects and contractors earlier this week of what was to be Catapult 2.0.

Almost 2 years to the day of putting a contract on the former Cash Feed building, spending millions of dollars, and thousands of hours of planning, we were facing the reality of starting over.

Damage

Hurricane Irma’s winds twisted the Cash Feed building’s steel trusses like pretzels, blew the terra-cotta stucco west wall in on itself, pushed the east wall out on itself, and blew out one of the iconic and historic, steel-framed windows on the front of the building facing Lake Mirror.

This wasn’t the first time our structural engineer had given us bad news. We knew the building had serious structural issues and had experienced significant wind event(s) in the past. Even an untrained eye like mine could see that the east and west walls needed shoring up and the roof trusses were “off” and had been significantly damaged in the past. The structural steel required to repair and secure the building was going to cost over $600,000.

This also wasn’t the first time our historic window restoration team had to give us bad news. We knew restoring the building’s windows was going to be a very expensive proposition ($400,000), but we were committed to complete restoration. When we found one of our iconic windows laying in the parking lot, and we were able to inspect the framing, we realized that we had a huge problem. The windows were not attached to the frames or the building😳.

You may have noticed that work on the building slowed to a crawl about 2 months ago. We found some non-hurricane related surprises when we removed the concrete slab on the first floor of the building. These “surprises” delayed the project and added $200,000 to the bottom line. We were scheduled to begin a grouting project to address these foundation issues Monday morning, September 11th, D-Day for Hurricane Irma.

Current Status

Following inspections this week by over 20 experts, contractors, engineers, architects, city building inspectors, planning and life safety officials, it breaks my heart to say that all roads and recommendations lead to condemning the building and demolition.

Rebuild?

Will you rebuild? Quite frankly, I am not over the shock of losing something that many of us have put two years of our lives into. It’s hard to think about. But my heart, my gut and our team says yes. Yes, we have to rebuild. Yes, we are not giving up. Yes, we are going to finish what we started…yes, yes, yes.

Pray for us as we figure out what it looks like to dig out of the hurricane debris like our fellow Lakeland neighbors have been doing for the past two weeks. Pray for us as we figure out what it looks like to start over. Pray for us as we try to match up our expectations with our budget. Pray for us, as we make plans to launch Catapult 3.0…

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