Local investor plans to rebrand troubled River's Edge Apartments into more LeForge Road student housing
But the troubled complex is now in the hands of a new owner whom Ypsilanti Township officials say has a proven track record of turning around similar complexes locally.
They are hopeful it means the end of issues at River's Edge.
Mike Radzik, director of the township's Office of Community Standards, said the new owners plan on rehabbing the “deteriorating” buildings and marketing the units to Eastern Michigan University students.
The new owner, Mike O'Lynnger, closed on the deal for the property on June 15 for an undisclosed amount. The Ypsilanti Township assessor’s office lists the complex’s value at $4.24 million. O'Lynnger declined to speak with AnnArbor.com.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
O'Lynnger owns two complexes in the city of Ypsilanti that are directly on the other side of LeForge Road. Radzik said O'Lynnger turned around those complexes and is now marketing them toward EMU students, and even offers shuttle buses to campus from the housing.
O'Lynnger also has made improvements at the once-struggling Lakeshore Apartments, as well as the Congress Park and Village Grove complexes, which he combined into one property. The former Tuscan Creek apartment complex is another project O'Lynnger recently took on, and Radzik said improvements are being made there.
“He has been a very good partner with us,” Radzik said, adding that he is aware of around 35 projects O'Lynnger and his company, Erie Investment LLC, has undertaken.
The housing stock in that area has traditionally seen a high crime rate and issues with property management. The neighboring Eastern Highlands complex is still abandoned and tied up in a legal suit, but Radzik is pleased another section of the area will see improvements.
“This particular place has been a real nightmare for the Sheriff’s Department,” Radzik said. “There were a lot of police calls; shootings, stabbings, robberies. It has just been terrible there.”
Aside from the crime issues, Ypsilanti Township officials moved forward with litigation to force the previous owners to bring the complex up to code.
Among other complaints in a notice of violation dated July 25, 2011 are:
- Deteriorating and leaking roofs.
- Leaking windows.
- Missing siding.
- Missing trim.
- Deteriorating porches that are separating from the buildings.
- Sinking footings.
- Overflowing Dumpsters.
Radzik said O'Lynnger has a systematic approach to turning around complexes and is expecting to have all the physical repairs completed within three to four months.
Radzik said when O'Lynnger takes over a property, he honors existing leases, but asks tenants who don’t have leases to reapply for their unit.
Those residents are then put through a more stringent background check and asked to leave if they fail to meet the standards. Once a resident’s lease is up, they are also required to reapply through O'Lynnger’s application process.
Radzik said O'Lynnger accepts limited section 8 vouchers and is more careful than many other landlords about which section 8 residents he rents to.
“Our experience had been when he acquires a property, after one year, he has turned it around, and it tends to be a well-maintained and peaceful community," Radzik said.
The ownership of River’s Edge leading up to the sale was complex. Citizen’s Bank took control of the property after the previous owner, Next Door Apartments - Villa Drive LLC, defaulted on the mortgage in early 2011.
A Washtenaw County Circuit Court judge appointed Farmington Hills-based Finsilver/Friedman Management Corp. as the property’s receiver on June 1.
Next Door's mortgage dates back to 2007 in the amount of $5.7 million and records show it owes more than $307,000 in back taxes on the property.
Radzik said he didn’t know the details of who would pay the back taxes.
“We’re excited that O'Lynnger has acquired the property because of his history of successful turnaround activity," Radzik said. "We hope and expect to see River's Edge's physical condition improve and see drop in police call service over the next 12 months."