The high-rise dormitories Neilson and Caruthers Hall that once housed 1,350 male students are being bid on by contractors for possible demolition. The dorms have towered over Tech’s campus for more than 50 years and have been vacant for more than seven years.
Sam Wallace, director of facility and support services, said there was a pre-bid conference this week allowing bidders the chance to walk the buildings to evaluate it to assist them in their price estimation.
“The bids are due on July 15 at 2 o’clock,” Wallace said. “Once we receive those bids we will then know if we can proceed with further action to fund the demolition.”
The outdated buildings contain asbestos, which was banned for any new use in 1989 by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Wallace said asbestos can create health problems and certain steps will be followed during demolition.
“Legally it [asbestos] has to be removed before the buildings can be demolished,” Wallace said. “It also has to be disposed of in an way suitable for asbestos-contaminated materials which means those materials have to go to a licensed building and construction debris landfill.”
Wallace said this is not the type of activity Tech does often so the university does not know how the bids will turn out.
“Bids could vary from 25 to 30 percent in price range due to the different factors each firm may present,” Wallace said. “Some firms may be able to take the debris all to one place while others may have to dump in various locations. Some firms may be able to dump the debris close by so their cost of fuel will be lower than others’ bids.
To encourage progress toward demolition the bids have been divided into three different categories.
“The prime bid is to bring down Caruthers Hall,” Wallace said.
“There is an alternate bid to bring down Neilson and a third alternate to bring down the married students housing off of Tech Farm Road.”
Dickie Craword, dean of student life and auxiliary services, said the last time anyone stayed in Caruthers Hall was during the fall quarter of 2005. It served as a temporary housing unit for the parents and families of Tech students displaced by Hurricane Katrina as well as Tulane University’s football team post Katrina.
Neilson Hall closed one year later.
“The original plan was to tear them down soon after closure but state budget cuts to higher education in 2007 and 2008 halted that process,” Crawford said. “We had to put our demolition plan on hold to see what impact budget cuts had on the university and when we could have the money available to proceed with the original plans.”
The buildings were originally closed due to being outdated and unattractive to students. The university had also begun to build the student apartments and planned to move students there, Crawford said.
“The money it would have cost to renovate the buildings to be up-to-date would cost more than tearing them down and still wouldn’t be near as attractive as our current student housing,” Crawford said.
Dave Clark, former Tech student, said he does not mind the vacant buildings still being there on Tech Drive.
“I feel that it preserves history in a way,” Clark said. “It shows the progression of our school and the old ways of life compared to the one we live today.”
The university plans to use the land for intramural activities and possibly additional parking for students once the buildings are cleared.
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