Commissioner Misled Legislators on Cordell Hull Renovation Cost?

The Haslam administration is preparing to demolish the 59-year-old Cordell Hull Building, located next to the state Capitol, but WTVF-TV suggests that legislators may have been misled when that plan was explained to them
Earlier this year, Haslam’s General Services commissioner, Brentwood developer Steve Cates, appeared before state lawmakers describing the Cordell Hull’s condition in the most dire terms.
“That is a very unique situation in that it is leaking,” Cates said during the department’s budget hearings before the House Finance Committee.
The building’s foundation was not waterproofed correctly, the commissioner told lawmakers, and trying to fix it would be a logistical nightmare. The main issue, he said, is the cost of fixing the water problems.
“There’s not $40 million available to spend to get it where it doesn’t leak, where there’s not mold, where there’s not mildew,” he added.
We showed the commissioner’s testimony to House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner, then we showed him the consultant’s report, showing the real cost of waterproofing the building’s foundation: $2.8 million.
“The actual cost is $2.8 million and you’re telling us it’s going to cost $40 million, you’ve either given wrong information, you’re not smart enough to know what you’re doing or you’re lying to us,” Turner said.
…In fact, the consultants say even a massive overhaul of the building – including a new roof, new doors, new elevators, new air and alarms would just be $24 million — far less than the commissioner’s $40 million figure.
NewsChannel 5 asked the commissioner’s spokesperson, Kelly Smith, “Did the commissioner lie?”
“No, he did not,” Smith insisted.
Instead, she said he combined the costs of all repairs for the Cordell Hull — with the costs for the adjacent Central Services Building.
“When we refer to the building, we are referring to Cordell Hull complex, which is Central Services and Cordell Hull,” Smith said.
“But those are two separate buildings aren’t they?” we asked.
“They are connected and we evaluated them as one piece of property,” she answered

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