Structural engineer’s report to the City on underpinnings to Brett’s Restaurant

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
November 21, 2021

To assist both parties in the ongoing dispute regarding the safety of the underpinnings of the building that houses Brett’s Waterway Cafe, each side has enlisted services of structural engineers to determine how safe or unsafe the structure is today.

In a letter dated November 18, 2021 to City of Fernandina Beach Engineer Charles George, City structural engineering consultant Dennis Wilkinson (Florida PE No. 84032) with Hanson Professional Services Inc. (Hanson) presented his latest findings and opinion.

Wilkinson visited the site on Friday, November 12, 2021 to observe limited destructive testing performed by Intron Technologies Inc. The destructive testing was conducted for the purpose of exposing selected sections of concrete reinforcement for evaluation. The testing was under the direction of Mark Keister with K|W Structural Engineers [engaged by the Centre Street Restaurant Group].  Hanson subsequently reviewed the Pile Cap D Limited Destructive Testing report prepared by K|W Structural Engineers dated November 16, 2021.

Photos provided in letter from Hanson Professional Services, Inc.

Following technical descriptions of specific problems, Wilkinson wrote:

“Hanson’s observations of the structure were limited and in no way should they be taken as an exhaustive survey of the condition of the structure. Nevertheless, with the findings of our limited review, Hanson has significant concerns for the stability of the structure. Hanson’s concerns are due to the deteriorated condition of both the pile caps and lowest level of the precast double tees. The analysis performed by K|W Structural Engineers only partially considers the vertical load carrying capacity and does not consider the structural system’s ability to resist lateral loadings and how that system may be impacted by the deteriorated condition of the structure including the deteriorated condition of the precast double tees. 

“Hanson recommends that the structure along with pedestrian access to the area in proximity to the building be closed to public occupancy until such time that further evaluation of the structural system can be made, and repairs can be implemented as may be deemed appropriate by additional evaluations. Hanson further recommends that the area beneath and in proximity to the underside of the structure be cordoned off such that it is not accessible by swimmers, boaters, etc.”

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