NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Residents will see more delays in possibly moving back into Seaview Lofts Apartments in Newport News due to lingering problems.
WAVY’s Jon Dowding reports that the main issue at the building, the elevators, failed an inspection on Friday due to issues related to malfunctioning HVAC systems. The HVAC in the machine room isn’t working correctly, which caused temperatures inside to rise to around 90 degrees on Friday, causing the machinery to malfunction. There’s also no air conditioning in the common areas of the building.
The city says the leaks will need to be addressed and they will try another test on the elevators, which will take one day per elevator.
As this plays out in court, it’s leaving many residents confused as they try to plot a course for the future.
“The judge has still condemned the building,” said resident Linda Williams. “Do we need to go somewhere else and every time you come with one problem from what it looks like there’s another problem. They can’t get that problem solved without another problem coming. Look like everybody need to go somewhere and let that building be cause it’s going to be a long time before they can get that building together with all the problems so let us know do we need to move somewhere?”
The judge has asked the building owner to be in court on Friday, August 5.
Also of note: Monday’s court hearing revealed there is a new building manager for Seaview.
The owner of Seaview Lofts Apartments, Ben Weinstein, was due in the circuit court for a status hearing Monday.
Residents were given just two days notice to vacate on June 28 after the building failed inspection.
A judge ruled that Weinstein must reimburse the city for hotel rooms provided to the displaced residents.
A 10 On Your Side investigation revealed years worth of failed inspections. In reports on March 11 and April 19, inspectors deemed the building “unsafe” and “unfit for human occupancy.”
In an exclusive interview with 10 On Your Side, city Director of Code Compliance Harold Roach said the violations at the building were the worst he’s ever seen in his career. He said the residents are caught between the city and the landlord dragging his feet.
“When I became convinced that the owner wasn’t going to fix the problem and that the fire department could not continue to be exposed to the potential threat that they had. We had to see that the building was vacated so they didn’t have that threat,” Roach said.
“I thank codes for finding these problems and getting us out of there. We could have been killed,” said Seaview Lofts resident Linda Williams. “We riding on an elevator broke down like this? And we could have been killed, so that’s why I tapped him and thanked him for what he did.”
But elevators aren’t the only problems.
City staff say the water heater boiler on the roof is leaking water into the 15th floor. Water from the coolant piping system is spewing onto the building and leaking into the elevator mechanical room.
Other residents just want answers.
“I just want to know, like, are y’all just going to knock it down and start over or can y’all fix the problem?” asked resident Sade Jackson.
As Jackson continues to look for a new apartment, she has a message for the owner.
“He has a job to do and you want us to pay rent, so fix it. You know what I’m saying? It’s not fair for us to pay rent and we not getting everything that we supposed to have. I’m sure when you go home, you have A/C, you have hot water.”
“The owners, they need to show up. They have no accountability. They knew about this, but didn’t contact them. [They] didn’t let them know and know that this has been going on for months,” said community organizer Octavius Smith.
Weinstein’s lawyers refused to answer whether he would be in court Friday.