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Judge rules Seaview Lofts building owner in contempt of court; penalty is to reimburse city for hotels

Seaview Lofts in Newport News
Posted at 10:05 AM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 18:23:32-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - A judge found the owner of the Seaview Lofts building to be in contempt of court during a court hearing on Friday afternoon.

The penalty is that the company has to reimburse the city for the hotel rooms it gave residents who were forced to evacuate. So far, the total for the rooms is about $70,000.

The apartment building is owned by Seaview Apartments LLC. Ben Weinstein is the company's president and was not able to attend due to a death in the family that required travel overseas, according to the company's attorney.

The hearing is the first one since last week when the building was condemned, forcing residents to leave the building.

Since then, residents have been in limbo with some staying in hotels and others finding shelter elsewhere.

The city is paying for hotel rooms through Monday, July 11. After that, the city announced Friday, hotels would be extended through July 14.

The main issue at the building is the elevator system. One elevator is working, but is not up to code, according to the city. The other one is not working.

The next hearing is July 14, when the judge said he wants to hear about efforts to get residents back into the building. At least one elevator needs to be up-to-code for the judge to reverse the condemnation order, he said.

Several residents attended the hearing and noted the elevator issues as one of several in the building.

"It goes way beyond just the elevators and they had numerous time to fix the elevators and they haven't," said Tanya Wade, a resident.

"We were upstairs for three weeks and couldn't get downstairs — no elevators, which, I didn't need anything from the store. I was comfortable, but it was the idea that I could not go if I wanted to," said Vernette Scarboro, who lives in the 12th floor with her husband who's in a wheelchair.

We've also learned the United Way and THRIVE Peninsula have made arrangements to accept and distribute the aid to Seaview Lofts residents. If you'd like to contribute, you can do so at the links below: