The Clermont Restoration
Atlanta, Georgia is a city steeped in history. Unfortunately, for many years preserving history wasn’t seen as being particularly important. Historic buildings that fell into disrepair were demolished, seemingly without a second thought. A prime example is the Loew’s Grand Theater, site of the Atlanta premier of the film “Gone With the Wind”. Within months of it being damaged by fire, it was demolished.
The same fate might have claimed The Clermont Hotel, but changes in attitudes and improvements in restoration technology not only led to the preservation of the building, but to the enhancement of both its appearance and integrity. Built-in 1924 as an apartment building, The Clermont was converted to a hotel in 1939. And in short order things started going downhill, culminating with health department inspectors forcing its closure in 2009.
The Clermont’s history is nowhere as elegant as the Loew’s Grand. In fact, it’s a bit disreputable; it is most noted for housing the infamous Claremont Lounge, (located in the basement) Atlanta’s most colorful and longest operating strip club. And for much of its life, the building above the Lounge served as a seedy low-rent hotel. However, a number of other buildings in the area have been reclaimed and repurposed and the current owners of the Clermont, who purchased the property in 2013, saw the virtue of preserving a 90-year old building and transforming it into an upscale boutique hotel.
Restoration of the building presented challenges on numerous levels- exterior, interior and subterranean. Not only did restoration of the basement lounge present its own unique requirements, a 100-year old Atlanta city sewer line required a redesign of the original restoration plans.
In October 2016, Tendon Systems was contracted to perform the historic preservation repairs, consisting of installing approximately 2,500 brick helical ties to support the brick façade, replacing the damaged steel window lintels, replacing displaced masonry, matching the existing brick mortar and replacing damaged mortar, also referred as tuck-pointing. Additionally, Tendon had to handle abatement of lead paint, the restoration of the metal cornice, removal of graffiti and cleaning of the exterior façade.
While crews worked on the exterior, Tendon also applied its expertise to restore 26,000 square feet of concrete on the ceilings and floors. The joists and beams were severely spalled and the floors looked like Swiss cheese due to the demolition process that was performed by another contractor prior to this project. Tendon crews installed carbon fiber at the joists to strengthen the lower floors, repaired columns in the basement and installed carbon fiber to provide additional beam strength. The remaining floors were strengthened with the addition of steel beams to the underside of the floor perimeters.
Prior to installing the beams beneath the floors, Tendon crews used Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to locate existing rebar. This step was essential to avoid drilling through and damaging existing reinforcements, thereby assuring maximum strength was achieved.
When the property owners decided to add a rooftop restaurant and bar, the entire underside roof slab had to be reinforced with steel to accommodate the additional weight load. Steel beams were also used in the construction of a new elevator. All told, the Clermont restoration project required the installation of over 100,000 pounds of steel to provide the necessary reinforcement for the entire building.
At the completion of the project, scheduled for August 2017, The Clermont will not only have been restored, but it will also achieve a level of structural integrity and the look and feel of quality it never had previously.