Rising costs and delays on the ambitious renovation of the historic Dallas County Records Building Complex sparked debate Tuesday among county commissioners.
The oldest portion of the building opened in 1915 but the complex includes three old buildings that were pieced together over the years.
The interior was gutted in the renovation to become one expanded, modern structure.
The original price was $158 million but it has risen to $170 million, partly due to COVID-19 delays and design changes.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price scheduled a discussion of problems with the project at Tuesday’s commissioner's court meeting.
“I've had some heart burn about this project from day one,” Price said.
Commissioner Elba Garcia defended the renovation work.
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“Through every single step, the staff has done a fabulous job, continuing this process,” Garcia said.
“We disagree,” Price said.
Price praised the return of nearly 900 employees to the building after they were relocated in March 2018 for the renovation job. The building houses the tax collector and county clerk and other officials.
But Price said some subcontractors have not been paid and costs may continue rising.
“There are a lot of issues that are looming out there,” Price said.
Garcia said she prayed every night that the historic shell of the buildings would not collapse as interiors were gutted for the renovation.
“Growing pains are still there. I want to thank all the elected officials and administrators that were kind enough to send me their punch list,” Garcia said.
County officials said the contractor is responsible for paying subcontractors, the current price is capped by contract and that lawyers have been hired to review every detail of the project.
“You have your attorneys coordinating and they’re going to come to the court probably the first week in December with just a full review and a final audit,” Assistant County Administrator Jonathan Bazan said.
The top of the renovated building where county commissioners will meet in the future is not due to be ready until January.
When county officials leave the county administration building, which is also the former School Book Depository, that building will be entirely turned over to the Sixth Floor Museum.