Friday at 9 a.m. was the official departure time at Seaview Lofts
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The City of Newport News has announced that it will pay for hotel rooms for displaced residents after a Newport News apartment building was condemned due to security concerns earlier this week. .
City Manager Cindy Rohlf said just before 11:30 a.m. Friday morning that the city covers hotel costs until July 6 for residents. They also said BlueRise Group, which owns the building, owes the city about $70,000 in water bills, WAVY’s Brett Hall reports.
At 5 p.m., Rohlf told 10 On Your Side that all 108 occupied units in the building were empty. The City of Newport News called a locksmith to help secure the building.
The city manager’s office said residents need not worry about losing their belongings if they can’t get everything out on Friday.
The building’s approximately 200 residents were only given 48 hours’ notice to vacate the 15-story tower over safety concerns the building’s owner and the city had been experiencing since April. The main problem is the non-working elevators in the building.
If the issues are corrected, the city could revoke the conviction and residents could move in again. But the owner says supply chain issues have prevented them from getting the necessary parts.
“Seaview has worked diligently to address the concerns that led the city to issue this order to vacate and will continue to do so,” Seaview Apartments LLC said in a statement to 10 On Your Side. “Global supply chain complications have resulted in extended lead times for the delivery of needed parts, which has delayed the completion of repairs. Additionally, when working with complex machinery such as elevators, problem solving ‘one problem often leads to the discovery of other problems for which parts must then be ordered, further extending the repair time. Seaview appreciates contractors [sic] to TK Elevators who worked diligently with us to complete these repairs and continue to make every effort to help us solve the city’s problems.
With no resolution early Friday morning, residents scrambled to get their belongings out before city workers were ready to enter the building around 9 a.m. — some still with no place to stay. go. Several said they would not leave.
WAVY crew saw people packing up a U-Haul at 4:20 a.m. and just before 7:50 a.m. a woman was seen wheeling her suitcase and two gym bags across the street into her car.
The Newport News Department of Social Services was trying to secure housing for residents, but some, like Tasha Gayle, a single mother of four, said early Friday they still hadn’t found housing.
“So far everything has failed, not just today, but since the day I arrived here, it was a failure”, Gayle said through a megaphone Friday morning. “I was never prepared for this. It was so sudden…I don’t know where to go.
Gayle, standing in front of a U-Haul, said she was going to stay outside the building until it could reopen.
“I have nowhere to go, so no choice.”
Panels on cardboard glued to the fence of the building read “have a good heart, let’s keep our house!!! and “one shelter a day keeps the homeless away!!”
Klalil Cribb of United We Stand of Hampton Roads came out on Friday to support residents.
“Some people have families. Some people know you have old people. You have children here. Some people really have nowhere to go,” he said.
Cribb supported the tenants during their move. He said he couldn’t sleep all night thinking about the tenants.
“It’s been bothering me since last night. I couldn’t even barely sleep,” Cribb said.
He said the city should give residents vouchers to help them find a place to sleep at night, which they later did.
The city first sent a letter to residents on Tuesday, giving them 48 hours notice.
In the days that followed, the owner still failed to operate at least one of the two elevators and comply with security.
Seaview was also ordered to appear in court on Friday July 8 to review compliance and explain why it should not be fined for failing to address the issues.
10 On Your Side has filed a FOIA request for all code enforcement cases and notices of violation for the Seaview Lofts property, and continues to follow this story for answers.