Ball State off-campus housing project remediating mold
A multi-million dollar off-campus housing project in the Villages at Ball State is being threatened by mold and workers claim it's being covered up.
For nearly two weeks, construction crews have been fighting heavy rainfall and growing mold on the top two floors at the Village Promenade. They're trying to get the hot spot open by August 1 while taking extreme measures to keep students safe.
"Imagine the possibilities" reads the advertisement posted outside the Village Promenade Apartments in Muncie.
"I think it will all be really, really good for the village. There's not a whole lot there," said Jordan Clohessy, a senior majoring in Music Technology.
Developers of the $55 million high-rise apartment/restaurant project just south of the Ball State campus promise growth. But not the kind workers allege could make students sick.
In an email, a worker shows 13 Investigates photos of growing mold, saying the construction company in charge "sprayed foam insulation in all 4 floors ceilings before there was a roof. The rain soaked the foam."
"Before drywalling, they didn't do anything to address the moisture, mold started to grow and the cover-up started," the email continued.
On site Monday, a supervisor with Whittenberg Construction of Louisville looked at the pictures and confirmed recent heavy downpours created a problem, but insists it's been fixed.
In a phone interview, project co-owner Larry Gough defended the steps that have been taken to deal with the problem.
"There was a number of units affected on both the third and fourth floors. They removed base, they removed cabinets, they had drying equipment. That doesn't look like a cover-up to me. I mean, we can't afford to cover up anything," he said.
Gough says the mold was discovered almost two weeks ago after the company poured gypsum (gypscrete) flooring. The recent rainfall made it difficult for the materials to completely dry. Gough says he hired an environmental hygienist to perform moisture testing.
In all, he says the fix cost $150,000.
"If we have a problem, we will spend whatever amount is necessary to make sure we remediate it. We are not going to put students or their parents at risk," said Gough.
The Village Promenade sounds promising to Ball State alum Kristi Leiter, who spent the day checking out campus with her son, a prospective student.
Leiter wants to know that the new sprawling gathering spot will be safe for everyone - those who call it home or just visit.
"I think as parents, we'll be more concerned about those issues," Leiter said.
"We've taken extreme measures to make sure that that building is safe," assured Gough.
As for the tipster 13 Investigates is not revealing the name. Gough believes it's someone who does not know the extent of work that's gone into the remediation.
The team's engineering firm says they have created an environment similar to what we might find in Phoenix right now. Hot, dry temperatures of about 115 degrees to dry out the moisture.
The companies involved say they've been doing student housing for years and understand the importance of this job. They're not just building a structure, but redoing the streets along University Avenue and adding about 30 new lights.