ELYRIA — You might want to wear a hard hat the next time you’re walking past the county Justice Center.
County officials were forced to close off an area outside the south end of the building Wednesday as they reinforce pieces of brick that have continued to loosen just three years after the $45 million building was finished.
County Administrator Jim Cordes referred to an engineer’s report completed in November 2006 that details a cracking exterior and leaking interior with pictures of evidence.
“Bricks and mortar do not crack on a building that’s only three years old,” he said.
Signs of trouble first popped up during an inspection three months after its September 2004 opening. Cracks were found that are still prevalent today.
Since the bricks are cosmetic and not structural — the seven-story building is made of steel and concrete — the building is in no danger of collapsing, Cordes said.
The county is holding Northern Valley Contractors accountable, filing a lawsuit against the company in April.
“We did our job and due diligence,” Cordes said. “We’re going to get this thing fixed.”
The new Elyria City Hall, just north of the Justice Center, which opened around the same time, has had its own problems.
After a two-year battle, a $2.5 million lawsuit brought by the city of Elyria against Clark and Post Architects of Lorain was settled in June for $1 million.
Cordes said he’s confident that taxpayers won’t need to shell out any more than they already have.
“As far as I’m concerned, there won’t be any cost to the taxpayers,” Cordes said. “We’re going to safeguard our position as successfully as possible.”