Mint Hill commissioners could vote Aug. 16
Mint Hill can easily expect to pay at least $253,500 to make the 123-year-old Bain school building useable again.
That’s the news Mint Hill commissioners got recently when reports came back from a structural analysis by Walker Engineering and a lead paint and asbestos study by Terracon on the building at 11524 Bain School Road. Commissioners voted in January to spend up to $6,000 in tourism money for the studies and could vote on whether to restore the building at their Aug. 16 meeting.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is planning to demolish the building unless the Town of Mint Hill intervenes. The district would like an answer by the end of the summer, Guy Chamberlain, associate superintendent of CMS Auxiliary services, said previously.
The about 7,500 square-foot building, constructed in 1889, has been condemned for more than seven years because of structural problems and is no longer safe to use, Chamberlain said.
According to the studies, the bulk of the restoration cost would come from necessary structural improvements, estimated at $250,000. Asbestos removal would cost about $3,500 and removing toxic levels of lead paint would cost an estimated $7 a square foot. Officials aren’t sure how many square feet of lead paint would need to be removed.
The studies found asbestos and toxic levels of lead paint in samples taken from the building. Charlotte-based Terracon took 37 samples to test for asbestos and 20 samples to test for lead paint, according to the study reports.
Charlotte-based Walker Engineering officials discovered structural damage in the auditorium roof trusses, a portion of classroom floor framing and some exterior walls though “the majority of the structure and supporting foundations observed appears to be sound,” according to the study. A portion of the floor framing underneath classrooms has “rotted and failed” and one roof truss over the auditorium over the stage “appears to have failed a some time either from moisture damage through the roof or by overloading …,” according to the study. Existing trusses will need to be strengthened with new columns.
Though inspectors couldn’t get into the building’s crawl space, the study suggests “additional floor rotting … is highly likely based on the softness of the floor observed during our visit and from lack of proper ventilation in the crawl space,” the study said. Officials recommend removing the existing classroom floors to study its “structural integrity.” Officials with Walker Engineering also found “minor” settlement cracks in the exterior foundation wall around a crawl space opening.
“This settlement appears to be the result of trapped storm water around the wall foundation that weakens the bearing soils and allows the foundation to settle,” the study said. “Previous repaired cracks in this same area were observed indicating the settlement has occurred over a long period of time.”
Biggers told Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly previously that, from a historical standpoint, the town is definitely interested in securing the building. But before making a decision, town officials want to ensure the project is financially feasible. Biggers said town officials have floated several ideas about how the old school could be used, including a community center, a small auditorium or simply part of a Mint Hill historical tour.
“There are a lot of folks in Mint Hill that attended Bain and remember that building,” Mayor Ted Biggers said previously. “It would certainly be sad to see it come down.”
Demolition of the 1889 building is part of the larger construction project that will bring a completely new facility to Bain staff and students by August 2013. The new school building, currently under construction, will be modeled after Charlotte’s River Gate Elementary, designed for about 800 students.
The new building is being built adjacent to the existing school, a portion of which was built in the 1980s. Like River Gate, the new Bain will be a two-story, 39-classroom building with 82,000 square feet. Areas will be designated for art, music and computer labs, a media center, and a cafeteria/gymnasium with a handicap-accessible stage. A rock climbing wall will be constructed at the back of the stage to be used during physical education classes.
Abbie Bennett, email@example.com