VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — An apartment complex that seemed to symbolize the frustration of Hurricane Matthew has been re-branded to a new name. The Waypoint at Lynnhaven Apartments are now Sparrows Point Apartments.
The owners insist it has nothing to do with past customer service or current legal issues.
The apartments were hit hard with flooding during Hurricane Matthew. During the cleanup from storm damage, Waypoint said contractors discovered asbestos in about 70 units. The tenants then had to break leases and walk away, without most of their belongings.
Sparrows Point has 300 units, but only 27 are occupied as of Friday. Eight are previous residents and 19 are new residents like Rachel Webb.
“I am very satisfied here. The entire thing has been redone — floor, walls, all new appliances,” Rachel Webb said.
She’s happy, but many are not.
After October’s Hurricane Matthew, renters at Waypoint at Lynnhaven Apartments were left in tears. Back in October, one resident told 10 On Your Side, “I have a feeling of uncertainty. It is so hard. I couldn’t realize what was happening. It’s like a dream, like I’m dreaming.”
For many, it wasn’t a dream, but a nightmare. Many of the renters turned to attorney Gary Byler,
“They were illegally kept out of their apartments, in our view,” Byler said. “As a result, almost everything these people owned was destroyed… Their belongings sat in water, in mold and asbestos.”
Residents filed lawsuits against Waypoint and its management company, Kettler, looking for compensation from property lost during the storm.
Byler says the 77 who have come to him claim the owners failed to use ordinary care for the protection, preservation and return of the property.
The owners of the property did not want to comment on that, but Byler says three former residents have received payments, three are waiting for checks and six others are currently in negotiations.
“The settlement requires that we not disclose absolute dollar amounts, but I can tell you we felt we were being treated fairly or we would have submitted it to a judge,” Byler said.
The remaining 65 are still in legal limbo.
“I can’t take a position now of deciding which clients are next in line, so we have given [the owners’ attorney] a deadline of next Friday,” Byler said. “Any case not seriously negotiated, we will file suit, even if that means we file 60 different lawsuits.”
Again, no comment from the owners’ group on any legal actions, but Karen Widmayer, a spokesperson for Kettler Companies, emailed the following statement to WAVY’s Andy Fox:
We have been delighted with the response to the opening of Sparrows Point and the enthusiasm new residents, as well as residents who were part of the original community, have expressed for the renovations, added apartment features and finishes and community gathering places. We look forward to welcoming many new families by the end of the summer!”
As for the legal action, Byler hopes the future is full of good faith.
“We fully anticipate they will cooperate in good faith in settling the other claims… My view: The Waypoint Apartments — now Sparrow — have done the right things by our clients so far.”