Downtown library opening pushed to November; lawsuit headed for mediation

    The long-awaited opening of the under-construction downtown library will be delayed just a bit longer.

    Though officials with the library board were hoping for a late September or early October ribbon-cutting, Library Director Spencer Watts now says it will be “maybe” November before the $19.2 million facility opens its doors to the public.

    “They’re just trying to get all the work coordinated and get it finished,” says Watts, who toured the facility late last week. “They’re taking great care to ensure everything is in good order.”

    A spokesman for the city-parish says there isn’t any particular problem causing the latest delay. He says the substantial completion date is now scheduled for October 28. A public opening date will likely be several weeks after that.

    “We believe there may be a short delay of a couple of weeks for the substantial completion date as we are doing our due diligence to review all aspects of the final construction,” spokesman Mark Armstrong says. “If there are any additional costs associated with this work, we will pursue recovering that through litigation.”

    The library, originally supposed to be completed in fall 2018, was put on hold for nearly a year, after a structural failure was detected in April 2018 in the building’s signature cantilever, which overlooks North Boulevard Town Square.

    It took architects, engineers and city officials months to identify the problem—a faulty weld on a steel structural support beam—then come up with a remediation plan and a funding source to fix it, which is estimated to cost more than some $2 million..

    Along the way, the city-parish sued its project manager/architect, which, in turn, sued several of its subcontractors. Initial efforts at mediation failed in late 2018, and the case headed for what appeared to be years of litigation.

    But the various firms and the city-parish are apparently willing to again try negotiating a settlement. A 19th Judicial District Court recently stayed the proceedings and a private mediation involving all the parties has been scheduled for mid-December, according to attorney J.E. Cullins, who is representing the city-parish in the lawsuit.

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