Collapsed retaining wall in Arnold drew concerns over cracking five years ago

FOX Files
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ARNOLD, Mo. – Arnold residents say they’ve complained for years about a 50-foot high retaining wall that partially collapsed behind them Wednesday.

It was 2015, when homeowners, city officials, and the wall developer investigated possible issues they thought they’d solved.

Homeowners like Connie Garrett said she’s complained from the beginning.

“We met with the developer numerous times and expressed our concerns,” she said Wednesday.

Now they’ve been told to evacuate. That’s not easy for Garrett, whose mother also lives with her.

“Evacuating somebody 89 years old is not as quick as you might think,” she said.

Their homes were here first. About five years ago, a strip mall and the retaining wall went up behind Garrett’s home.

The strip mall, located on JeffCo Boulevard, has shut down and its stores—Jimmy John’s, Coldstone Creamery, Smoothie King, and Verizon—have been temporarily closed.

Arnold city records show the wall being constructed in 2014 and passed nine different city inspections.

City administrator Brian Richison said they noticed cracking that concerned them the next year.

“We had meetings with the engineer and the developer and discussed potential solutions,” he said.

The developer’s engineer said it was cosmetic but the city sought a second opinion.

“They did a visual inspection, reviewed all the plan documents, the design documents, and they reached the same conclusion,” Richison said.

The second independent engineer report said, “…the wall is structurally sound…” and “I find no reasons for concern.” It also states, “The future performance of the wall is dependent on the ability of the foundation soils to support the weight of the structure.”

No soil tests were conducted at the time and that’s what city officials are now considering as they search for answers. FOX 2 called the developer for a comment today. A receptionist promised a call back but no one has since responded.

Richison said his focus is finding answers from expert engineers.

“We’re waiting on a report from the developers engineer to try and tell us what happened as well as proposed fixes,” he said.

Richison added that the strip mall above will likely remain closed for the entire time it takes to find answers.

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