The Dade County Courthouse appears to be helping judges and attorneys campaigning for a new building -- a $393 million issue that will be before Miami-Dade voters in November.
After a courthouse employee complained, a contractor found this week that two floors of the building at 73 W. Flagler St. have mold. The elevator lobby on one of the floors has what could be so-called "black" mold (scientific name: Stachybotrys), which some workers worry could cause respiratory problems.
It also, apparently, smells: "A musty odor observed on the 23rd Floor, Elevator Lobby," contractor PSI reported.
Judge Bertila Soto, chief over the 11th judicial circuit, mentioned the mold finding in passing Tuesday in a Spanish-language radio interview. Following an inquiry by the Miami Herald on Wednesday, Soto said that, as a precaution, employees on the 22nd and 23rd floors have been temporarily relocated, until the county -- which owns the building -- settles on a plan to remove the fungi.
Mold has been a frequent problem in the nearly 90-year-old structure. Part of the 23rd floor where the black mold was found was already out of service for various issues, but the restrooms had been open.
General counsel employees on the 22nd floor have been asked to work from home using laptops with a VPN internet connection. Case managers for the foreclosure division have been moved to other parts of the building, though without their desktops.
"If they think they can fix it in a short period of time, then they'll be moving back after that," Soto said.
If any employees were to be moved out of the building, they would not be able to take their furniture with them. That's because the courthouse has long suffered from a termite infestation.