Exterior of Highlands Building Buckling

The brick veneer exterior is starting to buckle under an Ohio County-owned building at The Highlands, and the county has filed suit in Ohio County Circuit Court seeking restitution from manufacturers and contractors involved.

The Ohio County Development Authority on Tuesday authorized County Administrator Greg Stewart and County Solicitor Donald Tennant to work to resolve the legal issues with Building 3 – where Panera Bread is located at The Highlands – before the authority next meets in April. A mediation hearing is set for Tuesday, at which time all parties involved will seek to work out an agreement.

According to Tenant, companies named in the suit include Owens-Corning Co. (Boral Stone), manufacturers of the veneer product; Waller, the general contractor and builder; Marsa Inc. of Pittsburgh, masonry contractor; M&G Architects and Engineers of Wheeling; and Mason Structural Steel of Cleveland.

Tennant said water is leaking behind the brick veneer, causing it to buckle out. County workers already have done work to repair the west side of the building, but Tennant and Stewart said they were reluctant to disclose the cost of any of the repairs – or any that are still needed – until after Tuesday’s mediation hearing.

The authority is expected to soon approve contracts to bring as many as three new tenants to The Highlands this summer, but none of those contracts were brought for the consideration of the authority Tuesday night. It is written into the authority’s contracts with potential tenants that the tenant be the party to reveal their plans to locate at The Highlands.

“We were really close to announcing at least one tonight,” Stewart said. “We’re going to be building one new building there, and several smaller buildings. Over 2014, we expect to bring in three-to-five new tenants.”

Stewart said some announcements likely will come at the authority’s next meeting, tentatively slated for April 28.

An earlier meeting will be called if agreements are reached prior to the that time.