Repairs begin at Atlanta’s troubled Royal Oaks Apartments

Repairs have begun on southwest Atlanta apartment buildings that, according to residents, have been infested with rats, water leaks and mold.

Repairs have begun on southwest Atlanta apartment buildings that, according to residents, have been infested with rats, water leaks and mold. According to the Atlanta Solicitor’s Office, Royal Oaks Apartments could be shut down if the owners, Prosperity Capital Partners, don’t bring the property up to safe living conditions.

The company managing the complex said last week that $3.2 million has been budgeted to repair the apartments located on a dead end at 3540 North Camp Creek Parkway. Exterior and interior work has already started. Water leak repairs were set to start this week, said Mike Furr, managing partner at Meridian Management Group.

Royal Oaks was cited with 185 violations by Atlanta Police Code Enforcement in July after residents complained of falling structures, rodents and neglect by management. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported residents’ concerns were ignored by apartment management and the tenants said living conditions were inhumane.

Of the 185 violations cited, 67 were for exterior structural damage, 38 for interior damage, 42 for junk, trash and debris.

Explore‘This is inhumane’ residents say of apartment complex living conditions

Solicitor Erika Smith, whose office handles code enforcement cases for Atlanta, said Prosperity Capital Partners, owner of the complex, will have time to bring the apartments into compliance but if they don’t fix the problems cited, a judge could declare the property a nuisance.

Florida-based Prosperity Capital bought the Atlanta complex in March for $13.8 million, according to a copy of a transaction document provided by Atlanta police.

Prosperity Capital posted a video on their website earlier this year aimed at potential investors. Royal Oaks, which was built in 1972, was described on the video by Prosperity co-founder Randy Lawrence as “… Just a plain quality affordable housing type thing for a regular working American.”

Royal Oaks contains 238 apartments, according to the video, and sits on about 16 acres, other documents say. Lawrence said the property had some maintenance needs due to its age. The “deferred maintenance” would be addressed by Prosperity’s management company and cost about $2.6 million, he added.

Lawrence, co-founder of Prosperity Capital Partners with his wife Sara Jo, did not return several phone calls from the AJC.

In the video, Lawrence said Royal Oaks and other older apartment communities built in the 1970s and 1980s and located near the airport are in demand and convenient for workers earning up to $65,000 per year. Investments in those types of properties will be considered the “investment of the decade,” he said, adding that other local communities owned by Prosperity Capital include Chastain Woods, Greenbriar Mill in Atlanta and Salem Chase in Conyers.

Furr told the AJC that some apartments were not fit to be lived in.

“It’s in bad shape,” Furr said of the complex. “Some (units) are not habitable. We are literally working to get this under control … These conditions have existed for a long time.”

Royal Oaks resident Shanika Wright said Tuesday some repairs and work was underway, such as new toilets and showerheads in her apartment, but her daughter’s bedroom was still in poor condition from water leaks. When the AJC visited in July, water from a leaky air conditioning unit appeared to have spread, soaking the entire floor of her daughter’s bedroom. Another bedroom door was off its hinges.

Workers from Sung Contracting Group started repairs to a gaping hole in the ceiling of Angela McCoy’s apartment last month but the tenant says mold is now spreading through the structure. And the carpet is still wet, she said, from water that was pouring in before the repairs.

McCoy has not lived in the apartment for more than a month due to the damage. “I’m still staying at my parents,” she said.

Resident Janie Penny, who has a sizeable hole in the ceiling of her apartment, presumably caused by the leak in Wright’s unit, said residents started a GoFundMe campaign. Penny said funds would help with legal fees, medical bills and the replacement of items thrown out because of water damage.

Penny and Wright said their children suffer from asthma and bronchitis.

The tenants said they’ve been unable to communicate with the leasing office and have been turned away by a security guard. New mailboxes are locked and residents haven’t been provided with keys to retrieve mail, the tenants said.

The phone number for the leasing office wasn’t working when the AJC attempted to call Tuesday. The AJC attempted to reach the leasing office manager, a Meridian employee, via a cell number listed on the violations report. The person who answered the phone hung up on the reporter within moments.

Furr said he didn’t know of a reason that tenants wouldn’t have access to a leasing office representative.

Meridian manages other properties for Prosperity Capital Partners, but Furr would not disclose which locations.

According to records on the Atlanta Solicitor’s Office website, Meridian pleaded no contest in 2016 to charges that included a “dangerous accumulation of rodents, vermin or pests” and paid a fine. Furr said that property was the now-demolished Sierra Ridge apartments located on the west side of Atlanta. Furr said Meridian was a third-party manager for Sierra Ridge.

APD’s code enforcement cited Sierra Ridge with more than 400 violations. In that case, Atlanta Municipal Court Chief Judge Christopher T. Portis ruled that the property owners failed to prove the property is fit for human habitation and ordered its demolition.

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