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A Candlewood Suites Hotel Under Construction in Omaha Red-tagged
 by City for Structural Problems; One Engineer Suggests Structure
 Should be Torn Down

By Stacie Hamel, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Feb. 28, 2007 - Construction work has stopped temporarily on a hotel near Eppley Airfield, and the architect for the structure is working to save it from being torn down due to problems.

"The city red-tagged the thing," said Leon Lauver, the architect for a Candlewood Suites Hotel under construction at 2601 Abbott Plaza.

The four-story, 82-suite hotel is being built with insulating concrete forms, which are hollow, foam blocks that are stacked like Legos and filled with concrete to create foundations and walls.

Lauver said city inspectors on Feb. 15 noticed that some reinforcements weren't covered by concrete. Further inspection found that there were voids, or spaces, within the concrete. The problem is common when the concrete is not vibrated while poured, Lauver said.

The contractor, ICF Commercial Contractors, did not return a phone call seeking comment. The Hiawatha, Iowa, company specializes in insulated-concrete construction.

Lauver said the contractor "felt that he didn't have to vibrate. The job super (superintendent) agreed with him, but it didn't go any further. It didn't go to me, or to the owner. That was a decision made on-site. It was a faulty decision," he said.

Jagmohan Desai, a former Norfolk, Neb., physician, owns the hotel under construction as well as a Holiday Inn Express across the street.

Lauver said an engineer originally working on the project reported that the structure should be torn down.

Another engineer, Ken Lathrum of Omaha, is on the project now and is more familiar with ICF construction, Lauver said.

The city is awaiting Lathrum's opinion, said Jay Davis, chief building inspector for the City of Omaha.

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Copyright (c) 2007, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

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