Since being awarded a grant from the National Park Service, the Americus-Sumter County Remembered Committee has been working hard in the pre-development phase to evaluate the condition of the building and property, create a vision for how the facility will serve the property, and prepare for construction activities.
Pre-development is a very important phase of the construction process. Before one can plan for the future, it is critical to understand the past and have a detailed assessment of existing current conditions. As the building was constructed in 1923, there has been a lot of wear and tear. Additionally, construction standards then were different than they are today, so it was critical that we have an accounting of the structural system and where improvements and repairs will need to be made before moving forward. As part of this process, it was determined that there was some building settlement – most pronounced at the western end of the building. Engineers determined that there were issues with the soils and are now in the process of recommending how to raise and support the existing foundation to eliminate cracking in the walls. This was the most severe issue identified, but not the only one.
The building was also evaluated by a professional environmental firm. While there were no surprises, they did identify asbestos, lead and some very limited mold. Lead and asbestos removal must meet stringent requirements with regards to process and disposal.
Before beginning the demolition process, it was important to create a conceptual master plan of what the Committee (and the community) want the building to become. From the very beginning, it was stressed that the Hospital must return to its place as an active unifying force in the community serving a variety of needs. The Committee conducted surveys and interviews and also drew upon their own personal histories. Together with input from the architects (J.W. Robinson and Associates of Atlanta) and their project consultant (Jay Scott of GreenRock Partners of Atlanta) a very innovative plan was created that will bring a wide array of resources to the Americus Community.
Once we completed a Master Plan for the building and the site, the architects prepared complete demolition plans. Because this is a historic building, it was important that the plans protect the historical features of the building and that the contractors be qualified for this type of work. The plans were completed and bids were received. Once a contract is negotiated, the contractor will complete the demolition phase. This work will include removing all asbestos (most is in the flooring), the walls and ceilings (sheetrock, plaster, etc), and existing electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems. The contractor will be responsible for following all requirements for this work and leaving the site clear of debris.
The demolition phase will also open up sections of the structure that have not been fully visible. Once demolition is complete, the architect and engineers will go throughout the building to complete their assessment. This will then allow the completion of the first phase construction plan.