Tulsa's World Publishing closes its Excalibur Building from quake damage
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Thursday, December 27, 2012
12/27/12 at 8:42 PM
Correction: This story originally incorrectly stated that part of the newspaper’s press room is beneath the Excalibur Building. In fact, the basements of the Excalibur Building and the World Building are separated by about six inches.
The November 2011 earthquake likely caused the structural damage that led Wednesday to the closing of a downtown building.
That finding was included in an engineer's report received Monday by World Publishing Co., the building's owner.
World Publishing President John Bair said a consulting engineer was hired to evaluate the building after exterior masonry and precast concrete fell from the Excalibur Building - also known as the Main Mall Building - at 324 S. Main St. in late August.
The engineer, William Dashiell of Norfolk, Va., wrote in his report that the building showed damage that "is not the result of excessive floor loading, wind ... or water damage. It is the result of a sudden lateral seismic force."
Dashiell was a consulting engineer on the Tulsa World's $60 million expansion project of the late 1990s, when the newspaper decided to install new presses at its historic downtown location rather than move to the suburbs.
Acquiring the Excalibur Building was integral to those plans. It allowed the World to control access to its loading docks along what was then a public alleyway between Third and Fourth streets.
In his report, Dashiell says the most serious damage is to supporting columns in the Excalibur Building's basement.
"The damaged columns we encountered are structurally unsound," Dashiell wrote. "If another event ... was to occur to the building in its weakened state, the potential damage could be much worse. In fact, we cannot accurately predict the structural response of the building if another (earthquake) was to occur."
Dashiell said another "seismic event" could "cause the (building) to hit the adjacent Tulsa World Building or perhaps fall towards the street."
Dashiell said the damage is "very significant and needs to be dealt with in a timely fashion." He recommended that an Arby's restaurant, the building's one remaining tenant, be evacuated.
The restaurant did not open Wednesday, and an official with franchisee U.S. Beef said most of the employees had been relocated to other Arby's restaurants.
"It was a beautiful restaurant, and we hate to lose it," said Brett Pratt, chief financial officer of U.S. Beef. "We will continue to look for another downtown location. We've been downtown a long time and have a loyal following there."
U.S. Beef's lease was due to expire at the end of March. It was not expected to be renewed.
The perimeter of the building was barricaded Wednesday for safety reasons, Bair said. The Excalibur Building, originally known as the Palace Building, was erected in stages between 1913 and 1917.
Its owner and primary tenant for more than 50 years was Palace Clothiers, which went out of business in 1960. The building was sold the following year.
The building went through a succession of owners and several foreclosures until being acquired by World Publishing in 1997.
Original Print Headline: Building is forced to close; quake cited
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365