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Castle Project gets certificate of occupancy

CASTLE Project CNMI LLC was issued a certificate of occupancy on Friday after complying with the rules and admitting in a court proceeding that it violated the building safety code when the company allowed construction workers to take up residency in one of its buildings before an occupancy permit had been issued.

Castle Project has a long-term interest in the former Top Fashion garment factory and garment workers housing unit in Tanapag.

Castle Project, represented by attorney Michael Dotts, said the company is a housing contractor for the construction contractors and subcontractors of Imperial Pacific International for its casino resort project in Garapan.

Last month, a Department of Public Works building safety official filed a court complaint against Castle Project citing violations of the building safety code with respect to electrical inspection requirements and the fire alarm system, among other things in connection with a structure in the property called Building B.

The complaint stated that Castle Project, on more than one occasion, caused untreated human waste to be discharged upon the site and upon adjacent premises and that the company had not satisfactorily addressed these deplorable unsanitary and dangerous conditions.

Building B on the Castle Project property in Tanapag.

On Friday, Dotts conducted an open house tour for the media in Building B and other housing units on the property to show the changes that have been made to the building that received citations.

Dotts said DPW’s concerns were addressed. “We also have a brand new fire alarm system to give a warning throughout the whole housing property. It was tested and it worked fine. DPW was there,” he added.

According to Dotts, there were about 60-70 construction workers residing in Building B when the company was cited for building safety code violations. There are four housing buildings on the property including a commissary.

Dotts said the company will now be allowed to take in additional individuals in connection with the federal investigation into the illegal hiring of workers on the part of IP contractors MCC International and Beilida Overseas.

“We reached an agreement with the United States Attorney’s Offic for humanitarian reasons. We will house the undocumented workers here, and they [the feds] agreed not to prosecute Castle Project,” Dotts said.

Attorney Michael Dotts shows the repairs and changes made to the rooms in Building B. Photos by Bryan Manabat

“We are working with the federal government. We allowed U.S. Labor to [conduct] interviews in our commissary.” He added that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and FBI agents have also been on the property.

“We have identified each worker in each room. The information is available to the U.S. government so the U.S. government will know where to find people who need to be repatriated, who need to get their wages paid, or need to be taken care of.”

According to Dotts, the Castle Project investors are principally from Taiwan. He said for a period of time, “a lot of people were housed here but nobody was cleaning up or taking care of the place.”

On Feb. 28, 2017, he said there was a change in Castle Project’s management. “They took control, hired security contractors to identify who was staying on the property, got an actual head count, and figured out what room they were in.”

Castle Project’s property manager Daniel Castro told the media that they will start moving individuals into Building B rooms by Monday.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/94889-castle-project-gets-certificate-of-occupancy

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