Lake Geneva landmark needs repairs

Built in 1932, the Riviera is a historic landmark that could get extensive repairs and updating starting around early 2019. (File Photo/Regional News)

The future of Lake Geneva’s landmark Riviera will be on the line as Lake Geneva City Council members meet in a special session at city hall set for 6 p.m. June 28.

Kehoe-Henry & Associates Inc., Elkhorn, identified more than $5 million in possible repairs and renovations that the venerable lakeside building does or will soon require.

City Administrator Blaine Oborn said the council members are expecting to spend about two hours going through the engineering and architectural report and identifying repairs that might need to be added to a project list, or those suggested repairs that can be put off.

“This is a big decision and lot of discussion,” Oborn said. “There will be a lot of discussion.”

Oborn said he doubts that the city council will take any formal action on the proposed repairs during the special meeting, although the council may give direction or request more information.

Education will also be a consideration.

By ordinance, all capital projects of $1.5 million or more must be approved by the city electors. It seems unlikely that the Riviera repairs will be less than $1.5 million.

It will be necessary to inform the voters about the need for the repairs and justify the projected costs of the project, Oborn said. He said the meeting will be recorded for replay on Vimeo.

Engineers and architects for Kehoe-Henry did their report after inspecting the building in April. The 106-page Kehoe-Henry assessment included the condition of the structure, review of safety issues and evaluations of plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems.

Repairs needed

According to the Kehoe-Henry report, almost every aspect of the building will need repairs and renovations.

Bill Henry of Kehoe-Henry suggested that a special meeting for the Riviera might be appropriate

Henry made a preliminary report to the city council’s Piers, Harbors and Lakefront Committee on May 24. The piers and harbors committee has been gathering information on the need for repairs at the Riviera since November 2016.

In December, the city council, on the recommendation of the piers and harbors committee, approved hiring Kehoe-Henry to do an assessment of the Riviera for an amount not to exceed $51,380.

Oborn said the council members may also schedule a follow-up meeting at the Riviera so they can see the building’s problems and failings up close.

Built in 1932, the 15,346-square-foot Riviera, originally called the Municipal Recreation Building, cost about $55,000.

Oborn has said that repairs would be eligible for room tax dollars, if approved by the voters.

In a preliminary survey of the building, Kehoe-Henry pointed out that the Riviera needs to improve the reliability of its heating and air conditioning system, restoration of some of its masonry and repair of leaking windows and window frames on the second floor.

According to Kehoe-Henry, the building’s ceiling is leaking, its window frames and sills have gaps and its insulated glass seals have broken.

Leaks and water infiltration have caused interior damage.

The metal handrails on the monumental stairs that lead to the second floor ballroom are rusting.

The concrete stairs are deteriorating from the constant use of salt to keep the stairs free of ice during the winter.

Steps deteriorating

The report notes that the north steps are deteriorating and need to be replaced. The current condition of the steps combined with ice or snow would make it hazardous to persons using the building in the winter.

The concrete wall caps at the bottoms of the stairs are also deteriorating.

The roof tiles on the 13,200-square-foot-roof show signs of cracking, mold staining and color fading. Ongoing leaks in several areas of the roof are causing damage to the ballroom ceiling.

Most doors and door frames are in poor condition.

On the inside, bathrooms have to be made ADA accessible and the kitchen needs better ventilation.

While the existing elevator car is serviceable, the controller, door operator and power unit are outdated and obsolete.

The elevator also lacks current ADA and fire service features. Emergency lighting in the building does not meet current codes.

The report also suggests that a new security system should be installed.

In 2013, the city spent $70,000 repairing cracking and spalling on the concrete “seawall” that protects the Riviera’s foundation. Work included installation of a temporary dam to lower the water levels around the Riviera so work could be done on parts of the Riviera that are normally underwater.

In 2010, the city did some repairs on the building, ringing up about $600,000 in expenses.

The last time the city did comprehensive rehabilitation and repairs on the Riviera was in 1980.

Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.