Recent rainy and stormy weather has delayed the massive mold-removal project taking place at downtown Pensacola’s federal courthouse, according to the agency in charge of the building.

The $30.8 million project, which had been scheduled for completion in the fall of next year, will instead be finished late next year, said Adam Rondeau, spokesman for the General Services Administration.

“The project’s schedule has shifted due in part to the weather that’s impacted the Florida Panhandle over the last few months,” Rondeau said in response to emailed questions.

Rondeau said the project remains within its estimated budget. He said the bulk of the work to date has focused on interior and exterior demotion, waterproofing and electrical and HVAC upgrades.

The next step, scheduled for later this month, will be installing precast concrete panels on the exterior of the building, he said. The concrete panels will cover the black damp-proofing and waterproofing materials that have surrounded the building since summer.

The $10 million courthouse was built in 1997 under a contract that made the GSA, not the developer, responsible for maintenance and repairs of the building.

U.S. Chief District Judge Casey Rodgers sent a letter to the GSA in March of 2015 saying the courthouse had been infested with mold for 20 years without any permanent remediation.

Rodgers said more than half of the building’s employees had reported health problems consistent with mold exposure. Employees complained of a variety of sinus and respiratory issues.

Stable Foundations workers remove the brick facade on the Federal Courthouse in downtown Pensacola on Thursday, March 22, 2018. The currently vacant building is undergoing repairs to remedy water intrusion and mold. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/gregg@pnj.com)

The construction work began in 2017 after the developer of the building at Garden and Palafox streets agreed to an early lease termination and transferred the problem-plagued courthouse and surrounding property to the city. The city then transferred the title to the GSA.

In the meantime, U.S. District Court operations have moved to the nearby Winston E. Arnow Federal Building.

Jay Stake, president of the national Indoor Air Quality Association and an expert in mold assessment and removal, said it is crucial the entire courthouse structure be sealed to eliminate water intrusion before mold-contaminated materials are removed.

“If they have a leaky roof and it is continuously raining, everything they are doing is just wasted time,” he said. “You have to take care of the building envelope first.”

Mold is dangerous but its impacts are difficult to gauge because they differ from person to person, he said.

“Lead or asbestos will affect everybody. With mold, 10 of you could walk into a room with mold and each one of you will react different. There is really no set level for mold exposure,” he said.

According to the GSA website, work to be done at the Pensacola site includes modernizing and repairing the courthouse, replacing the facade and seam metal roof system to prevent water intrusion and conducting mold abatement. The site says work will also include repairing structural damage, upgrading fire safety systems and installing new heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.

Article Source: https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2018/11/21/pensacolas-moldy-u-s-courthouse-repairs-take-longer-than-expected/2060153002/