Construction Company Co-Owner Talks Risks Of Working On Copper Lounge Building In October Video

Investigates
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There are concerns the construction company working in the former Copper Lounge building knew about the risks involved in taking out a wall between that building and the old Skelly’s space. 

While it’s not clear what caused Friday’s collapse, OSHA is on the scene Monday investigating.

KELOLAND News Investigates has uncovered new evidence of problems with Hultgren Construction when it came to the work it did on PAve and on the Copper Lounge Building.  

Hultgren Construction co-owner Aaron Hultgren spoke at The Bakery in Sioux Falls on Oct. 14 about a number of projects, including the former Copper Lounge building. 

 “Whenever you go into these old buildings, there’s always unknowns and the unknowns are what’s behind the wall and what’s underneath the ground,” Hultgren said.

Immediately after the building collapsed, KELOLAND Investigates uncovered a picture that was posted by the company, Hultgren Construction, of them taking a wall out between the Copper Lounge and old Skelly’s space.  

KELOLAND News has learned that the City of Sioux Falls had not issued a building permit for major demolition work like that.  City Building Services had only issued a limited permit on October 6 to remove interior finishes like floor covering, furnishings, ceiling tiles and the existing bar area.  

Hultgren Construction was supposed to submit structural engineering and architectural reports to the city first and get approval to do that kind of work, but did not do that.  

However, Hultgren shared at The Bakery less than two months before the collapse that they were indeed taking out a wall.

“We have guys in there right now who are removing all the material that was the Copper Lounge, that was the remaining piece of Skelly’s,” Hultgren said. “And there is a 38 inch brick wall that separated Skelly’s and the Copper Lounge. We’re having steel beams engineered and we’re going to take the wall out between the copper lounge and Skelly’s.” 

Hultgren also explained in the video that a structural engineer had told him the wall was probably between 16 and 18 inches, however it turned out at 38 inches thick. 

“Quite frankly the school of hard knocks–every single project we do, I learn something,” Hultgren said. “You’re never going to have it all figured out and just when you do you get slapped in the face with a new fun challenge.”

KELOLAND News Investigates is digging into more details on this story. Tonight on KELOLAND News at Six, KELOLAND’s Angela Kennece is talking to city officials and the former owner of the building. 

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