Video from inside Capital One Tower gives new perspective of damage
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Built as hub for business in Southwest Louisiana 40 years ago, the property most-recently called the Capital One tower sits empty after Hurricane Laura. Nineteen months since the storm, its owner says it plans to rebuild.
The tower has had several names since it first opened in 1983. Its 350,000 square feet have been home to numerous businesses until August 26, 2020. Hurricane Laura’s Category 4 winds tore through the Lake Area shattering the Capital One tower’s mirrored façade.
“Every now and then, I’ll just look out the window and I see the Capital One building. It looks like Swiss cheese,” Mayor Nic Hunter said in his first post-storm interview. “I’ll look out the window and say ‘My God. Is this real? Is this really happening?”
The iconic building reduced to exposed infrastructure and glass in the streets. As we near 600 days since Laura, the former beacon of business in Lake Charles remains shuttered.
New video from inside the tower gives us a different perspective of the damage.
Only the sounds of traffic pouring in through boarded windows, echoing in the absence of ceiling tiles.
The smell of sawdust stagnant as the 22-story building sits while its owner, Hertz Investment Group, prepares for trial.
In a lawsuit filed against its insurance company, Zurich, Hertz claims it’s not been paid “promptly” and “fully” what it’s due, including repair and replacement costs Hertz estimates at over $130 million.
Hertz declined our requests for an interview and instead released a statement that acknowledged that many in the Lake Area are also struggling with insurance issues.
While the City of Lake Charles declined to comment because of the pending litigation, for the last year and half Mayor Nic Hunter has made his stance clear – he would rather see the building gone than continue to sit in its current state.
Now, as Hertz waits for its June 20, 2022, court date, the company is making plans, saying it’s “preparing to begin construction of the first phase of the rebuild.” While the group would not give 7 News a timeline, it said phase one includes repairing the freight elevator, roof, skywalk, and replacing some windows.
It’s the first official word that the once grand tower could one day shine again. 7 News reached out to Zurich for comment on the lawsuit but the company did not respond. The City of Lake Charles also confirms no permits for the Capital One tower have been filed.
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