“Gather round, children. It’s time for The Tell.
This ain’t one body’s story. It’s the story of us all. We got it mouth-to-mouth. You got to listen it and ‘member. ‘Cause what you hears today you got to tell the birthed tomorrow.
I’m looking behind us now … across the count of time … down the long haul into history back. I sees the end what were the start. It’s the Gaillard Apocalypse, full of pain!
And out of it were birthed crackling dust and fearsome noise. It were a full-on demolition … and Mr. Riley lying to them all.”
And so begins the story that every Charlestonian knows by heart, the story of how Joe Riley’s final vanity project came to be and how it was never finished and how all of us dream of one day returning to the Gaillard, to bask in the greatness of Spoleto, to listen to the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, to wait in line for hours to get our Cooper Bridge Run packet. But today the Galliard is in shambles, a piece of perfection that is far from perfect.
Perhaps you remember when, in Nov. 2014, Mayor Riley announced that the renovated Galliard — yes, they were still calling it a “renovation” then — would not be complete in time for the 2015 season of Spoleto. Those were dark days full of lies and half-truths and wishful thinking. Riley initially blamed the delay on the need to make sure that the acoustics in the Gaillard would not be to his exacting world-class standards by the time Spoleto began in May.
For many, if not most, this announcement came as a shock, including many of us in the press. Like you, we had been led to believe that everything was preceding nearly as planned, that the April 2015 deadline would be met. Some had even made plans to attend a special VIP tour of the newly renovated Gaillard Center on Thurs. Nov. 20, 2014, an event that was canceled only days before it was scheduled to take place.
However, thanks to The Post and Courier, the precursor to today’s Paras and Courier Social Media Express, we learned that the project experienced heavy delays from the beginning. Or as Diane Knich reported at the time:
Riley said the project hit many snags including:
Finding human remains buried at the site, which delayed the project for about a week.
Having to put a new roof on the exhibit hall space because the existing one couldn’t be repaired.
Building new walls for the exhibit space instead of using existing ones because the concrete blocks were in poor condition.
Work on internal columns needed to be redone because they were not properly aligned with the design above them.
Facing a lot of competition in hiring quality contractors and sub-contractors because many people left the building professions during the Great Recession.
Before then, few had heard about a new roof, new walls, and improperly aligned columns. In fact, it was almost as if Riley and his cronies didn’t want the public to know just how badly off track the renovation had gone. Sadly, they were hiding so much more.
But that, my children, is a story best left for another day.