DURHAM, N.C. — Two dorms at North Carolina Central University that were closed due to mold problems were reopened on Tuesday.
Gov. Mike Easley and members of the Legislative Black Caucus toured the new dorms Tuesday. Last August, toxic black mold was found in the dorms, forcing 500 students to leave the dorms and reside in area hotels.
"Thanks to the cooperation of the university faculty and students, these dorms are now safe, clean and ready for business," said Easley. "Our goal is always to provide a healthy living and learning environment for our students. This is key to fostering knowledge, talent and skill in students at NCCU and campuses across the state."
The university and the state were forced to spend millions of dollars to repair and renovate the dorms.
The six-month project included destroying mold found in the interior of the buildings, updating the mechanical system and refurbishing the plumbing system in the 134,000-square-foot facility. More than 30 contractors worked seven days a week to complete the renovation project, including 12 minority- and women-owned businesses, also known as Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB).
Last week, the state Attorney General's Office found five construction companies responsible for the mold problem, citing shoddy work, design defects and poor construction methods. The state Attorney General's Office also raised the possibility of a lawsuit if reimbursements to the state were not made.
Four of the five companies are currently working on other state projects. An architectural firm owned by former U.S. Senate candidate Harvey Gantt has current contracts worth $17 million. R.K. Stewart and Son is working on a $3 million job. Atlantic Coast Mechanical has ongoing projects worth more than $5 million. Cam-Ful Industries is now working on 12 projects, totaling more than $15 million.
Easley said he is not sure whether the problems at N.C. Central should keep the five companies from bidding on future state contracts.
"I think that's something to be taken into consideration until all the litigation is done and until all the information comes out," he said.
According to the Office of State Construction, there is not any record of any major problems involving any of the companies on other projects. The companies are supposed to meet with the state Attorney General's Office to come up with some kind of resolution to the payment issue.
Students are expected to move back into the dorms in August.