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Mold removal slows Jaguar Hall remodeling


July 27, 2010 at 2:27 a.m.
Updated July 28, 2010 at 2:28 a.m.

Sometimes renovation isn't a pretty sight. Especially when you have to jackhammer through large sections of concrete flooring, like the kitchen area of the former InnPlace Hotel turned UHV Jaguar Hall. Contractors are busy getting the facility ready for the fall semester.

South Texas humidity and the paper-rich rooms of University of Houston-Victoria's Jaguar Hall have been the key culprits behind slow downs in the building's $9.5 million remodeling process.

The hall, formerly the InnPlace Hotel, will house the school's first class of freshmen students. It is now in its sixth week of mold remediation, which involves removing anything from moldy carpet to cleaning the air with purifying machines.

The goal is to make the air inside the hall cleaner than the air outdoors, said Kevin Myers, UHV director of facilities and services.

"We tear out the paper, we tear out the Sheetrock and pretty much start from scratch," he said.

The air filters, known as air scrubbers, can remain in the rooms for weeks. The air is tested and cannot contain any dangerous mold spores.

Large white plastic partitions surround the doors of rooms with dangerous mold levels. Until the rooms are cleared, crews cannot enter to begin painting or remodeling. About 115 rooms have been released.

"Once it's done, it's probably the cleanest room in Victoria," said Wayne Beran, UHV vice president for administration and finance.

The hall has been under construction since May. Despite mold remediation, the administration believes the hall will open in time for student move-in on Aug. 19, although construction will not be complete.

Athletic offices and classrooms on the first floor will remain under construction as planned, Beran said.

The west building on the property, which is scheduled to be demolished, will be razed even as the students move in. The demolition will take about six weeks and cost an extra $500,000, Beran said. The extra space will be used for parking spaces.

Mold also has been a problem in that building.

"That whole building was full of mold and asbestos," he said.

Mold remediation in the main building is expected to be finished by the end of the week.

Myers believes increased crews on the site will help the project to be completed in time for move-in and the start of classes on Aug. 23.

If the rooms are not completed in time, the students may have to live in hotels, said Alexandra Baker, UHV director of housing.

"Essentially, we would house them in hotels until we have space for them," she said.

Baker said she expects the hall to reach capacity before school starts.

So far 205 students have applied to live in the hall, which can house 258 people. The school has accepted 545 students and will host five more orientations before the start of school.

Ashley Winegeart, an incoming freshman softball player from Corpus Christi, believes being housed in a hotel might be inconvenient, but doesn't mind.

"I'm sure it would be a little frustrating if we'd have to stay in a hotel at first because you have all your dorm stuff," she said. "But at least you're having a place to stay."

The rest of the building is a blur of dusty construction crews. The kitchen floor is completely dismantled and many areas were being rewired.

"While we're waiting on (the mold removal) we're not stopping," Myers said. "We're just moving around and working on other parts of this project."

Once the rooms are cleared of mold, they will be rewired, painted and completely remodeled, Beran said.

"This is a 40- to 50-year-old building, so we want to do it right," Beran said.



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