Sinking building built on a swamp

Published: Jun. 14, 2012 at 6:46 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2012 at 8:37 AM CDT
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Future home to Cajun Coast Visitors Center in Morgan City, LA is sinking into the swamp
Future home to Cajun Coast Visitors Center in Morgan City, LA is sinking into the swamp

MORGAN CITY, LA (WAFB) - St. Mary Parish put up more than $3 million for a Convention and Visitor's bureau. It went up with high hopes, but what happened Thursday, sank those very hopes.

"We had a catastrophic failure," said Carrie Stansbury, executive director of Cajun Coast Visitor's & Convention Bureau.

It's what St. Mary parish officials had been wanting even before Katrina in 2005. Stansbury said they decided on the building to help boost the economy in Morgan City in hopes of keeping visitors in town.

"By slowing them down, we could get them to get another tank of gas. We can get them to stay overnight. We can get them to eat in our restaurants, and get them to create economic development in our community," said Stansbury.

It was less than six weeks from completion when suddenly, "A painter was in there today (Thursday), and he noticed a crack in the sheet rock."

That painter contacted an Aegis representative, who was on site.

"The guy came in. He said something doesn't look right. (Told everyone) get out of here, and then it sank," said Stansbury.

When looking at the building, there is a dip in the middle and a crack in the chimney. Stansbury said the Convention and Visitor's bureau sank about five feet. She said the building was engineered according to soil samples taken at the site, but at the end of the day, they built on a swamp. Stansbury said they were very much aware they were building on a swamp.

"It's very devastating. It's like a death in the family," said Stansbury. "This is an anomaly. They have no idea what could have happened."

Engineers and architects are investigating, but no clear answer as to what went wrong. Stansbury said the project was bonded and insured.

Aegis representatives told WAFB, they had "no comment."

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