Parking deck at Hyatt Place in downtown Athens damaged when concrete slab falls

A precast concrete beam fell Thursday as it was being lifted into place at the top level of the parking deck for the Hyatt Place hotel on Thomas Street in downtown Athens, prompting evacuation of part of the adjacent Classic Center, downtown Athens’ convention and performance space.

 

The Classic Center’s loading dock and ballroom areas had been closed temporarily in an abundance of caution before the lifting operation started, according to a Friday news release from R.W. Allen, the Augusta-based company that is the primary contractor for the 192-room Hyatt Place project.

According to the release, a 42-foot by 6-foot section of concrete fell approximately 35 feet to the lower level of the parking deck at approximately 7:30 p.m. Thursday, taking three smaller pieces of concrete with it.

“We’re extremely thankful nobody was hurt,” Scott Clark, president and CEO of R.W. Allen, said in a Friday interview. Clark spoke with the Athens Banner-Herald/OnlineAthens.com shortly after attending a meeting with engineers from Metromont, the Greenville, S.C.-based precast concrete contractor installing the deck.

Representatives of Armentrout Matheny Thurmond, a local structural engineering firm working on the Hyatt Place project, were scheduled to be on site Friday for their regularly scheduled inspection, according to the news release.

Doug Hansford, director of the Athens-Clarke County government’s Building Permits & Inspections Department, said Friday that he had been in touch with Hyatt Place project managers and project engineers, and was satisfied that they were handling the situation properly.

“They jumped right on it,” Hansford said. Part of the work that R.W. Allen and other involved contractors will have to do, Hansford said, is to determine whether the Thursday incident was an installation issue or a design issue.

Minor injuries were reportedly sustained by a couple of construction workers in the Thursday incident, and according to the R.W. Allen release, one of those workers was evaluated at a local hospital but returned to work later Thursday evening. A total of nine workers, from Metromont and Davis Erecting, a precast concrete framing company, were on the Hyatt Place worksite when the incident occurred, according to R.W. Allen.

Work at the site was suspended on Friday as a safety precaution, but crews should be back on site fairly quickly, according to Clark.

Operations at The Classic Center, which will be directly connected to the Hyatt Place hotel when construction is completed this summer, were back to normal on Friday.

Replacement sections for the damaged precast concrete sections damaged in the Thursday incident should be on site by Wednesday, Clark said. Those replacement sections — the only sections waiting to be installed before the parking deck is completed — could be in place by Friday, according to Clark.

“It’s like a puzzle,” Clark said, explaining the process of installing the pre-built sections of the parking deck.

Athens-Clarke County fire and police officials closed off a section of Thomas Street immediately following the incident at the Hyatt Place site, even though the deck is located some distance from the street, behind the hotel. By 9 p.m., Thomas Street had been reopened to traffic, and representatives of R.W. Allen were reportedly on the scene.

The damage to the parking deck is minimal and will not delay construction on the hotel, which is scheduled to open this summer, according to R.W. Allen.

 

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