HomeNewsPolitics & GovernmentAugusta Commissioners give the owners of Azalea Park Apartments another extension

Augusta Commissioners give the owners of Azalea Park Apartments another extension

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The plumbing issues at the troubled Azalea Park apartment complex are far worse than previously disclosed and virtually all the gray water plumbing will have to be replaced. In light of that issue, the Augusta Public Services Committee has given the owners another 30-day extension to present an engineering plan to bring the complex up to code.

According to Augusta Planning and Development Department Interim Director Carla Delaney, the 50-year-old set of buildings have suffered from decades of neglect and that the former and current owners have taken a “haphazard” approach to remedying the situation.

Delaney said she and her inspectors determined that the plumbing issues were far beyond the scope of what a property management company could handle.

“They need what we consider technical assistance helping them to prioritize what to do and who to select to do the work as far as having the skill set to have the work completed,” Delaney told commissioners.

According to Delaney, the buildings still have cast iron plumbing for sinks and tubs, and when problems would occur, the previous owners would simply put a “band aid” on the problem. Some of the repairs were simply run around the side of the buildings and did not have the proper slope for gravity.

As a result, the sinks, tubs and dishwashers would back up and spew water back into the units.

Delaney was careful to note that gray water is different from sewage; however, past reports noted that the remains of raw sewage backups were found when empty units were inspected, and sewage had been discovered seeping into an adjacent creek.

According to Delaney, the prior owners did not pull permits to do the “band aid” fixes, and so code enforcement never knew of the chronic plumbing issues.

Dave Dunaway, the attorney for Sureste Partners LLC, the owners of the complex located at 1814 Fayetteville Drive, said his clients have only owned the complex for two years and that an inspection prior to the sale did not find any significant problems with the plumbing.

“Somebody did you a disservice,” District 4 Commissioner Al Mason said, “because what we have just heard here is that this is not something that just happened, but it has been going on for years.”

The issue of nondisclosure or failure to remedy the problems may spill over into civil court as a group that entered a contract to buy the property from Sureste has filed a lawsuit.

On May 27, 2021, SMJ Investments signed an agreement with the Azalea Sureste Partners to buy the property, for $10.5 million. The price was dropped to $10 million after an inspection of the property, and by September, the current owners agreed to fix code violations and put up $500,000 for repairs to building A.

The promised repairs were never made.

Several commissioners were uneasy about giving yet another extension to a company that has been given one extension after another over problems that have become chronic over the years.

Mason was clearly not impressed by the fact that only the gray water issue was being addressed when the complex had been brought before the commission no less than three times since he was appointed to the commission in September of 2021.

“I would ask you — would you live there with what we know what is going on?” Mason asked Dunaway.

District 8 Commissioner Brandon Garrett stopped just short of recommending that the certificate of occupancy be revoked.

“You’ve got plumbing that is outside of the buildings that was added on after the fact to try to alleviate some sort of a problem. That, to me, says ‘we’ve done in the past what we want to do’ and I know the current owners didn’t do it, but they also came in and bought a building and kept it running in the same manner,” Garrett said.

Aside from the sewage and gray water issues, the current owners have been cited repeatedly over bedbug as well as rat infestations, and the complex has been plagued by several fires over the past year.

According to Delaney, three buildings are currently unoccupied due to fire damage, and two have been condemned by the city and will have to be “taken down to the studs” and rebuilt from the ground up before they are considered habitable.

Current occupants of the complex will have to be moved around as each building has its plumbing gutted and rebuilt. The process could take the better part of a year.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Is there not some kind of yearly inspection done? Do these apartments just get a business license and stay open until they fall down with no action taken? I mean I got a RC Marshall at my house one time because my pool was green even tho it was treated for mosquitoes. These apartments should have to abide by some code. Or maybe they do and someone is dropping the ball?

  2. Anyone other than the lawyer know who these Sureste Partners are? They can afford attorneys, but not a plumber? Why don’t the commissioners require THEM to answer these questions of slum lord neglect, like they would any local landlord? Are these Partners in cahoots with the Atlanta city establishment? Are they doing the same things with properties they own in other cities? Perhaps there needs to be a Federal Civil Rights investigation into these violations, and their impact on the disadvantaged. Could this be evil white people preying on these poor tenants, or somebody else, connected and protected?

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