Government Center plaza paver curse continues

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August 16, 2004 // UPDATED 3:24 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Hennepin County Government Center's plaza has been bedeviled over the years by its brick pavers -- the original 1974 set became quite slippery when wet, as did the 1990 replacements.

Last fall, the county solved the problem with a new, rough-hewn set of pavers costing $600,000.

Now, the problem isn't slipping -- it's chipping.

The pavers on the 5th Street side of the Government Center, 300 S. 5th St., began to chip and flake nearly as soon as installation finished this spring, said Judith Hollander, director of the county's Property Services Department.

Hollander admits she's irked.

"Brick pavers always chip a little bit, but not to this extent," she said.

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, who represents Downtown, said he pointed out the problem six months ago.

"I'm shocked at the chipping," he said. "It's ridiculous to me."

He wants to see something done about the pavers on the seemingly cursed plaza, even if "it takes a shaman."

Hollander said Sheehy Construction, Inc., the St.

Paul-based contractor responsible for the pavers' installation, is "working cooperatively" with the county to solve the problem.

She said though the pavers (made by Georgia-based Boral Bricks, Inc.) are paid for, the contractor has not been paid fully, and the county has not accepted the work.

"We're really involved in a really extensive inquiry to figure out what the problem is," she said. "There appears to be nothing unusual about the pavers or the [installation] methodology."

Hollander says the north plaza serves as a roof over the Government Center's parking garage, and the unusual setup might contribute to the problem. Crews have installed a test area of the suspect pavers on the south plaza, which is at grade. The test area is expected to show if the roof is a cause of the problem.