Area construction damages Stadium Village buildings

Some businesses in Stadium Village have felt vibrations from nearby building projects.

by Megan Nicolai

The expansive construction spanning the University of Minnesota campus may be a nuisance for pedestrians, but vibrations from the work are doing real damage to surrounding buildings and businesses.

University property has suffered the most damage. For all of August and the first few weeks of September, construction crews accidently dug into the underground tunnel connecting Moos Tower and the Transportation and Safety Building, closing the walkway for more than a month.

Buildings lining Washington Avenue also had to deal with power outages, said Brad Hoff, the chief administrative officer at Facilities Management.

Before construction started, University officials underwent âÄúpre-constructionâÄù surveys of buildings that were likely to be sensitive to vibrations during construction. Another survey will be done after the light rail is completed. Surveyors wonâÄôt fully determine any damage to University property until that time, Hoff said.

As part of an agreement between the University and the Metropolitan Council, construction is monitored closely so it doesnâÄôt exceed set vibration levels, Hoff said.

âÄúWhen [the construction] is complete, weâÄôll go around and point out what happened âÄî hopefully nothing,âÄù Hoff said.

But the ongoing work has also affected businesses in the area, mostly around the intersection of Washington Avenue and Oak Street.

The Kimchi Tofu House, a small restaurant at 307 Oak St., is sandwiched between two major developments âÄî the light-rail construction to the right and a Doran Companies apartment development to the left.

Okhwa Iverson, manager of Kimchi Tofu house, said while her building hasnâÄôt suffered much damage, the vibrations caused by the construction are annoying to the customers. She said construction also caused a minor sewage issue late summer, but that was fixed immediately.

The vibrations can be felt through the walls and the floor.

âÄúYou can really feel it every day,âÄù Iverson said.

The Doran-developed Oak Street Flats sit on the old location of the Oak Street Cinema, which was demolished in September.

Doran asked Iverson to close her business for a couple days as the cinema was torn down due to safety concerns.

Ken Braun, the vice president of construction at Doran, said the construction crew has never approached excessive levels of vibration, which is closely monitored while excavation is underway.

âÄúWeâÄôve put a lot of work and effort into that,âÄù he said.

But, half a block away, a military recruitment building sandwiched by construction work spotted a crack on one of its inner walls.

Bill Nicklow, owner of the building housing Chipotle and Punch Pizza at Washington and Oak, said while the first floor businesses are fine, some structural issues have arisen on the second floor.

Not all businesses are lamenting the construction.

Pat Weinberg, owner of Espresso Exposé, said that while the pedestrian sidewalk detours are annoying, they could be funneling more business into his café.

âÄúWe were getting creamed before that,âÄù Weinberg said.