Aug 11, 2022 - News

Hains Point pool fight between D.C., architect

Hains Point pool.

Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

D.C. has been locked in a behind-the-scenes legal battle with an architect over the renovation of the pool at Hains Point — leaving it without any timeline for reopening. 

Why it matters: This makes six summers that the Olympic-sized pool — a popular destination for swim teams — has been shuttered.   

Catch up quick: The city had planned to replace the pool, pool deck, and bathhouse. 

  • But in 2020 the project was halted because the site kept filling up with groundwater as crews were working. 

What’s happening: The city proceeded to sue Hughes Group Architects for breach of contract and wants the company to pay more than $14 million to cover the project costs. 

Details: D.C.’s Department of General Services alleges that it received an “inaccurate” report from Hughes misstating the groundwater level, according to the lawsuit.

  • The groundwater depth was cited as 23 feet, the agency tells Axios — deep enough for the new pool. 
  • But once construction began, it turned out the level was “significantly more shallow,” the agency says, and the site “consistently filled with water.” 

The upshot: The renovation couldn’t go forward “without substantial additional investment,” per the agency. 

The other side: Hughes denies that it broke its obligation to the city and says that the city began construction without its own contractor flagging discrepancies, according to the company’s filings.

  • Additionally, when a potential solution for completing the project surfaced, "DGS failed to mitigate its damages by abandoning the project, and destroying some of the improvements made, instead of finishing it," per the filings.
  • A lawyer for Hughes declined to comment to Axios. 

What’s next: The city says that the Contract Appeals Board has a hearing scheduled for February 2023. In the meantime, staff is still working to stabilize the pool.


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