NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News judge found the owner of a condemned high rise apartment building in contempt of court Friday, for failing to fix the elevators at the complex.
The judge handed down the punishment for that contempt: the owners have to take care of all the resident put up in motels by the City of Newport News and pay back the city $15,000 a day for motel housing including 64 families and 93 rooms.
According to the city, Seaview Apartments, LLC was made aware of the issue in April, but the company failed to correct things, which led to the building being condemned.
The building owner, Ben Weinstein, was due to appear in Newport News Circuit Court Friday afternoon to give an update on the progress made to the elevator issues and other concerns, but had to travel to Israel for a funeral.
In court, it was revealed 108 occupied units at Seaview Lofts remain condemned. The maintenance manager reported parts are being replaced, but it did not seem great progress is being made. In addition to the elevator repairs, it also came out in court that the boilers do not meet code; one for water and one for heat.
As punishment for not fixing the issues, the company must reimburse the city for the relocation costs of the residents.
“They had numerous times to fix the elevators and they haven’t,” former resident Tonya Wade told 10 on Your Side.
Resident Vernette Scarboro lived on the 12th floor for three weeks. Broken elevators prevented her from going downstairs. “Which at that point didn’t need anything from the store or anything like that, so I was comfortable, but it was the idea I could not go when I wanted to go.”
When WAVY spoke with City Manager Cindy Rohlf about the issue last week, she said repairs still need to be made before residents can moved back in.
“Hopefully, they will get some of the elevators fixed and we will be in a different place, but we just don’t know,” Rohlf said.
In the meantime, the city extended free hotel rooms for displaced residents until Monday, July 11.
“We are in this situation because of his neglect and our plan is to make sure those tenants that are at risk because of the landlord’s actions have safeguards in place and a place to immediately go,” said Assistant City Manager Alan Archer.
The next hearing in this case is scheduled for July 14.
WAVY was not allowed to bring a camera into the courtroom Friday, but Reporter Andy Fox was there. He’ll have live updates on the outcome of today’s hearing, tonight on WAVY News 10.