Investigations

Old Tampa City Hall looks like a million bucks but scares people working there

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - It may be an historic architectural gem but people working at "Old" City Hall in Tampa are getting sick.

"I try to come here as little as possible," Councilwoman Yvonne "Yolie" Capin said. Within minutes of arriving at city hall, Capin's sensitivity to mold kicks in.  "Every time I walked in here within 5 to 10 minutes I'm coughing and I'm tearing up," she added.

A $16 million renovation that began in 2017 restored city hall to its 1915 glory, but did little to stop moisture and air from seeping through the building's brick exterior. As a result, paint on interior walls is bubbling. Mold is growing beneath floors and on the walls.

According to Ocea Wynn, of the city's logistics and asset management department, only three employees requested to be moved due to sensitivities. However, a report by contractor PSI to the city states "concerns have been noted by occupants of the building, particulardly those located on floors 4-8."

At a council meeting last week, Capin accused the city of keeping employees in the dark. "The administration never considered the health of the people that were staying here during that time at all, did not move us out, did not do any of that," she said. 

"I don't think that we're doing enough in order to make sure that we cleanse this building and exorcise all these fungal spores that are existing here," Councilman Mike Suarez told Ocea Wynn.

"If I may respond sir," replied Wynn.

"I don't think that's necessary for a response, I wasn't asking you a question," Suarez stated.  

"It is incumbent on you and the administration, based on your position in terms of facilities management, to make sure that this building is not a sick building."

"It was so easy to remedy in the beginning, had they done the memo, people wouldn't have gotten sick, people could have made an informed decision not to be here," Capin added.  

"We had to find out the hard way not to be here, you know, by coughing and tearing up and sore throats and headaches."

Councilwoman Capin believes what is in old city hall's walls and beneath its floors is affecting her health.  She worries taxpayers will get stuck with the bill to cure the building's ills.

If you know of something that should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.


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