Mold Continues to Plague NCCU as Cost of Removal Soars
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.
The cost of repairing mold-infested buildings at North Carolina Central University could be millions of dollars more than expected and is draining NCCU resources, a state university committee learned last month.
There are indications that fixing the problem could cost much more than the $10.4 million allocated last month by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.
The estimated cost then of ridding one wing of a 4-year old, $14 million residence hall of mold was $355,000.
A report by Clark Nexsen Architecture & Engineering released last month pointed out that the mold had spread to both wings of the dorm. Parts of the building must be stripped to the frame and rebuilt, the report said. The report also recommended that the school reconstruct the shower rooms and replace the two-pipe mechanical system with a four-pipe system. The estimated cost to reopen the building by the start of the next school year: $8.7 million. Clark Nexsen blamed the mold problem on design flaws, poor construction and poor maintenance.
As a result, UNC system President Molly C. Broad chastised NCCU Chancellor James Ammons in a letter for allowing spotty maintenance and has ordered an audit of maintenance practices across the 16-campus system.
Ammons told the committee last month he also has started a review of campus maintenance. Altogether, mold has affected 14 buildings on campus.
Meanwhile, school officials continue to deal with how to house and transport the 500 students displaced by the closing of the dormitory. The move will cost the school about $2.3 million, Ammons said. Some of that will be paid with students’ room and board money, but the university will cover the remainder. The university must also make its regular debt payment on the empty dorm, despite having relinquished that money to hoteliers housing the students. Another 400 NCCU students have been placed off site because of separate dorm closings and upgrades.
The attorney general’s office has also stepped in and is reviewing the consultant’s report, a spokeswoman for the office said.
Ammons said it remains unclear whether his school or the university system can recoup some of the costs associated with the mold problem from the architects or builders of the dorm. Construction documents show that the university complained almost immediately after the buildings opened in 1999 that they were plagued by water leaks, ventilation defects and other problems that could cause mold.
“This is a very expensive undertaking to get this facility back,” Ammons says. “We will follow the advice and counsel of the attorney general.”
— Associated Press
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