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Office building in lawsuit changes ownership

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tenants of 405 Capitol St. are still fighting to get the elevators in the 10-story office building operating, and a change in the building's ownership could delay a resolution.

On Wednesday, an attorney who represented the previous owners in December was removed from a lawsuit over the faulty equipment.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom, who ordered the building's former owner to get two elevators in working order, said that a new lawsuit would have to be filed against the current owner.

"But I urge you to enter into negotiations quickly," he said.

The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was owned by Midtown Center Associates until late last year. The former Daniel Boone Hotel was sold for $4.33 million last month to Capitol Partners of Ohio.

Philip Hereford, who represented Midtown at the last court hearing, said he has not been contacted by the new owners and his calls are not returned. He told Bloom his own office is located at 405 Capitol.

"I got a memo on Jan. 23, like all the other tenants, that the building was sold," he said. "But I don't know who they are or anything about that.

"I contacted them and asked how they wanted me to proceed in this action and got no response," Hereford said. "I also advised them of my motion to withdraw and have heard nothing from them."

He said the building's former manager, Delores Gill, is also no longer employed there and not a party in the case.

Hereford acknowledged that since the order to get two elevators operating in December, there has been at least a period of time when they were not.

Tenants of the building, including Larry Swann who filed a lawsuit, are frustrated over the inaccessibility of their offices for themselves and their clients and customers.

Swann is disabled and uses crutches to walk. His attorney, Jeffrey Wakefield, said Swann was recently forced to relocate his office to Laidley Tower.

Wakefield said he will file a new lawsuit against Capitol Partners because of the nonoperating elevators and Swann will continue his request for damages for his inconvenience and financial loss. "He was paying full rent but not getting full benefit from that rent," Wakefield said. "And humiliation. It was embarrassing to have to meet his clients at restaurants and other locations."

Other tenants of 405 Capitol St. include U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller's staff and attorney and Delegate Mark Hunt.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cherylc@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832


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