NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - News 3 is learning more about issues at a Newport News apartment complex, the Seaview Lofts, as residents are being forced to evacuate their homes due to the complex being declared "unsafe" and out of code.
According to Newport News Communications Manager Kim Lee, the city has been working with the owner since April, when both elevators went down. The building was able to get one elevator functioning, but not up to code. Several safety features are still missing.
The city and the Seaview Lofts owner have been in and out of court since April, with the city trying to compel the owner to get it fixed.
Thirteen total criminal charges were filed against the owner in April due to code violations — 10 charges filed when both elevators weren’t working, one for electrical hazards, one for the fire protection system not being up to code and one for the vent to the boiler being broken.
Other safety issues at the apartment complex include water in the stairwell, Lee said. The apartment's owner owes Newport News Water Works $70,000.
A tenant support center at the West Avenue Library, a block and a half away from the apartments, is offering resources like information about hotels, apartments and social services programs in the area. However, many tenants of the Seaview Lofts don't qualify for assistance programs.
From July 1 until July 6, tenants of the Seaview Lofts will have free hotel accommodations coming from taxpayer money. Lee told News 3 that the property owner has not stepped forward with any type of assistance to the residents.
The city is still deciding if they're going to lock the building, as the condemnation is expected to be a "temporary solution." Residents have been instructed to leave their furniture and just take essentials from their apartment, as when the elevators pass inspection, the condemnation will drop.
Lee told us that the elevator is not expected to be fixed for days.
The city-provided housing may have to be extended past July 6, Lee added.
An attorney representing the Seaview Apartments, LLC released the following statement:
"Seaview has been working diligently to address the concerns that led the City to issue this order to vacate and will continue to do so. Global supply chain complications have led to extended lead times on deliveries of the necessary parts, which has delayed completion of the repairs. In addition, when working on complex machinery such as elevators, fixing one problem often leads to discoveries of other issues for which parts must then be ordered, further extending the timeline of repairs. Seaview appreciates the contractors at TK Elevators who have diligently worked with us to make these repairs, and who continue to put in every effort to help us resolve the City's concerns."