County building inspectors to go over studies about SouthPark roof

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Mecklenburg County's building inspectors plan to go over two studies on the roof at SouthPark Mall that may help explain why it collapsed during a violent thunderstorm.

The first report, by an engineering firm from Georgia that studied the mall's structural integrity, says it didn't find any conditions to suggest an imminent safety hazard, but did find a narrow crack probably caused by a construction load when the mall was remodeled in 1999.

They recommend inspecting several areas, including the roof framing over the Gap Kids, Banana Republic and Solstice stores.

The second report, by a Charlotte firm that surveyed the roof, noted that five of the original 16 scuppers, or wall drains, were blocked and not replaced.

Among their recommendations was installing 14 emergency overflow drains as close to those scuppers as possible.

"This just came in to the office and hit my desk on midday Friday," said Jim Bartl, director of Code Enforcement for Mecklenburg County.

Bartl said he plans to review the report with his staff and will look to see if the building was up to code.

"It has to comply with the code under which it was constructed or originally built.  That's what our area of authority is and that's what we're trying to do," Bartl said.

He said it can be complicated because the mall was built in the late 1960s and renovated 30 years later, with two different building codes.

Bartl said all of the damage was in the older part of the building.

Several stores remained closed for renovation, including Gap Kids and Banana Republic.