Weatherly developer to move lawyer's files as project starts


Activity will begin Monday on the project to convert the former Weatherly Candy Factor Building on Water Street, shown here in October, into an apartment complex.


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, December 10, 2018

Before new apartments go into the Weatherly building, its developer is taking care of its existing occupants: decades' worth of legal files belonging to a local law firm.

John Trimpi, of Trimpi and Nash, said he's been storing legal files at the downtown Weatherly building, reflecting an oral agreement with its prior owners, the Mann Family. Weatherly Lofts, a company under JD Lewis Construction Management, has now fully acquired the property from the former owners, according to Elizabeth City Downtown Inc. Executive Director Deborah Malenfant.

JD Lewis' plans are to convert the Weatherly building into 44 loft apartments. The developer is expected to begin activity on the project on Monday, according to Malenfant.

Trimpi said he's stored files in the building going as far back as 1972. He couldn't immediately quantify how many files there are, but it's enough that they have to go before renovation can start.

“There's a ton,” he said, adding his firm is now “culling” the records to see what can be disposed of. The aim is to move and store the boxes under a written deal between the law firm and Weatherly Lofts.

According to a draft of the deal, provided by Malenfant, Weatherly Lofts would move the files, construct shelving needed for them, and pay half the rent needed to store the files. The landlord would pay to shred files Trimpi chooses to destroy within six months of the move.

Trimpi said the NC State Bar requires attorneys keep case files for at least six years, and he has files dating back to when he worked in criminal defense and adoption, as well as the more general practice continued today.

Asked if his law firm produces fewer paper records now due to computer storage, he said no, as law remains a “paper-intensive” practice.

In a recent interview, Flanigan said JD Lewis aims to have the building fixed up and ready to occupy by early 2020.