McKinney City Council members discussed alternative options to keeping the McKinney Coal & Ice Company Building, commonly known as the Ice House, as part of the Municipal Community Complex project during a work session July 19.
Assistant City Manager Barry Shelton presented a report detailing an evaluation team’s structural assessments on the Ice House conducted during 2021. The team included the project’s architect, structural engineer of record, construction manager and forensic engineering consultant, according to the presentation.
McKinney voters passed a $50 million bond proposition in 2019 to fund a new municipal community complex, according to the city of McKinney’s website. The current facility is not big enough to house the city staff with additional space for administrative and parks employees being rented around McKinney.
Council members approved the hiring of Lake Flato + Parkhill firms in 2020 to complete architectural and engineering design of the project. Though initial concepts included the Ice House as an event space, further assessment and investigation revealed extensive structural issues, according to city reports.
Over several months, the evaluation team found structural concerns, including evidence of water leaking down the building interior and exterior and bricks falling apart and falling off the ceiling, Shelton said during the presentation.
The team found exposed rebar in some parts of the ceiling, and the roof had become disconnected from the building’s walls. Sunlight can be seen shining between the roof and walls in one picture on the presentation. The facility also sported cracks several bricks deep.
“How this thing’s being held up is a little bit of a question,” Parkhill Community Director Scott Nelson said.
Modern Geosciences, an environmental consulting firm, conducted a total petroleum hydrocarbons study, which measures soil for gasolines, kerosenes and diesel fuels, on the site where the municipal complex is planned to be located. The soil underneath the Ice House measured well below permissible pollution levels, Shelton said.
“Before we can use this for a City Hall or any other nonindustrial use, we have to mitigate the pollution on the site,” he said.
Some petroleum products were found up to 20 feet deep and would have to be removed and transported to a landfill that accepts polluted soil. Shelton said he anticipated city staff recommending the removal of about 1,500 cubic yards of soil from the site.
The developers are past the design-development phase and more than halfway complete in the construction documents phase, Shelton said. The developers anticipated breaking ground on the project in October. If the city requested the developers redesign the municipal complex to include the Ice House, it would set the project’s timeline back by five to eight months, he said.
Construction costs alone would rise by about $7.5 million with a five-month delay in groundbreaking and by about $12.2 million with an eight-month delay in groundbreaking, according to the presentation.
The developers presented four options as alternatives to tearing the building down completely, including converting it into an open space, removing the roof and adding a support structure, removing the building’s top half and constructing a new roof pavilion, and demolishing the building with a new landscape pavilion built in its place.
The first time the public saw the municipal complex project plans without the Ice House included was during a public meeting in March, Mayor George Fuller said. Despite the assessments being conducted in 2021, Fuller had remained hopeful that the developers would find a way to keep the Ice House.
“[I] certainly should’ve done a better job, engaging the community, letting them know where we were as we were learning,” he said.
Other council members agreed it was not feasible to incorporate the Ice House into the municipal complex’s design. Council Member Patrick Cloutier said the process taken in determining not to save the Ice House was not perfect, but the end result was correct.
Instead of spending $13 million to save the Ice House, Cloutier was interested in spending a smaller amount on utilizing the Ice House’s bricks to build some kind of replica.
“It’s a sad decision to say ‘no,’ but it’s not a hard decision for me,” he said.