City

The Municipal Development District and Baytown council are considering another change order to the Brunson Theater project, which will increase funding by $126,008.

City Manager Rick Davis said the change orders are not dollars spent, but instead are dollars authorized.

“We had the last change order, and we haven’t done that work yet, and we have taken another look at the Brunson,” Davis said. “But it is not like we are going to spend all of the authorized dollars. If we can get away with spending zero, we will. But before we even contemplate additional changes or modifications, we need to do the change order.”

The last change order for the Brunson was approved Feb. 7 and increased funding to turn the historic theater into a business incubator/tourists center by $24,032. That brought the total for the MDD’s funding obligation for 

the renovation project to $1,385,890.40. 

The third amendment to the agreement between the city and MDD, if approved, would bring the total MDD funding obligation to $1,511,899.21. It adds waterproofing and sealing to the theater’s floors and walls, adds flashing to adjacent buildings to prevent flooding, and adds 136 calendar days to the construction contract.  

Davis emphasized this does not necessarily mean the project will take 136 extra days, but might push it out a couple of months. 

“Keep in mind, we had targeted a much earlier opening day before,” he said. “We originally thought we’d have this done by the first of the year. But there are simply a lot of complications associated with resurrecting a 70-year-old building that’s been sitting idle for half that time.”

Davis said workers have sealed the floor and added some more roof support to the theater, but not sealed the floors. 

“Engineers and architects have looked at the Brunson again and said we are still getting the water infiltration,” he said. “It is not just the sweating of the cement, but getting water in the building. It is coming from two locations - up at the top of the roof down the wall and where the wall meets the floor, or the joint of the floor.”

Davis said the proposal is to place sheathing up at the top of the roof and come down the sides a bit to seal the top of the roof.

“It will be absolutely impermeable,” Davis said. “We will then wait and see if that does the trick before we do the ‘full enchilada,’ which is much of the rest of the cost. If that is not enough and we are still seeing water coming in through the joints in the floor, we will pull off the drywall and apply a polymer type of sealant all around the cracks wherever that wall hits the cement, and seal it in like a bathtub. The Brunson will be about as airtight as you can possibly get it.”

Davis said the sheathing costs range from $20,000 to $30,000. The largest part of the cost is pulling the drywall off and applying the proxy everywhere, which is about $125,000 of “authorized” funds, according to Davis. 

The colored terrazzo flooring is another area Davis said they plan to focus. 

“We tried grinding down the terrazzo floor and polishing it, but it is just not taking it,” Davis said. “It is too old and too exposed.”

Davis said the floor has areas where it has crumbled over time, and cement patches have been added. 

“Chunks are missing in other places, and it is porous in some places,” Davis said. “So, what we want to do is take about three-quarters of an inch to an inch off the top of it, grind it down and pour a new terrazzo floor that looks identical to the original over the top of the floor with original colors. So when you come in, it will pop. It will be just amazing to look at.”

Davis said this will cost about $30,000. However, he was quick to add the project is not over budget. 

“Council said if we are going to do it, do it right,” he said. “We are still within the realm of the budget. In fact, we are in the sweet part of the budget that has been authorized by the MDD. But when things exceeded a certain amount, they need to go to MDD to get approved.”

Davis emphasized the three-prong mission the city has with the Brunson.

“One was to preserve it, and find a use for it and make that use such that if in the future somebody wanted to purchase the business, we can easily relocate somewhere else,” Davis said. “We think making these kinds of improvements is an investment for the future. People will be very happy once this is done.”

The MDD meets at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, 2401 Market St., in the City Council Chamber today. Council will then meet at 6:30 p.m. in the same location tonight. Agenda items and a video posting of the meeting, which will be available sometime after the meeting, can be viewed by logging on to www.baytown.org/city-hall/city-council/agendas-minutes

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