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Iconic Lake Charles building still empty months after Laura

July 14, 2021 GMT

LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — The Capital One Tower, a 22-story building that has stood tall over Lake Charles for nearly 40 years is still empty nearly a year after Hurricane Laura’s 150-mph winds knocked out windows up and down the building last August.

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The American Press reported Saturday that the building’s owner, Los Angeles-based real estate firm Hertz Investment Group, has been working with its insurance company, Zurich, since Laura made landfall. In a statement, the chairman of Hertz said it has been a “slow and arduous process.”

“As soon as we’re able to complete this process, we’ll be able to move forward,” Zev Hertz told the newspaper.

The 358,000-square foot tower had 73 tenants before the hurricane but now it is not able to be occupied. Many of the windows are boarded up.

Hurricane Laura was a powerful, Category 4 storm when it made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, and was still a Category 4 storm when the center passed near Lake Charles an hour or two later, according to the National Hurricane Center’s report on the storm. The report said the hurricane was directly responsible for 47 deaths in the United States and Hispaniola as well as $19 billion in damage in the United States.

Then, about six weeks later, Hurricane Delta made landfall just a few miles from where Laura had hit, bringing further damage to the region.

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter told the newspaper that the city would like to see the Capital One Tower repaired and back in use but also doesn’t want the building sitting in disrepair for months on end.

“As iconic as it is, and as much as it pains me to say this, I would much rather it be torn down than sit in that state for an extended period of time,” Hunter told the newspaper.

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This story has been edited to correct the name of the building. It is the Capital One Tower, not Capitol One Tower.