NEWARK, N.J. (WCMH) — The owners of LatitudeFive25 can continue with their bankruptcy claim, a federal judge ruled Friday.
A New Jersey federal judge rejected Columbus’ motion to dismiss Paxe Latitude’s bankruptcy filing. The owners of the hazardous, pest-infested apartment complex filed for relief under Chapter 11 after Paxe Latitude was fined $4.3 million in February for its failure to abide by multiple provisions of an agreement it entered into with the city. The City of Columbus responded by filing a motion to dismiss Paxe Latitude’s bankruptcy filing, claiming the owners did it to evade fines and a property takeover.
The owners were then ordered by the New Jersey judge to prove they had sufficient funds to repair the towers, which the city deemed unsafe to occupy at the end of 2022. According to court documents, Paxe Latitude successfully submitted proof it has more than $2 million available with additional funds in escrow. The owners also submitted a three-month budget outlining its debts and construction costs that total to $2.45 million.
A spokesperson for Paxe Latitude said in a statement that the owners are “committed to working with the court system, city of Columbus and community to resolve this matter and make things right.”
“Today we proved to a bankruptcy court we have both a plan and the funding needed to take steps forward immediately,” the statement read. “We know displaced residents and their families are continuing to be impacted and we will do everything possible to address the concerns of the community.”
The hundreds of former residents of Latitude Five25 have been displaced for nearly three months, after the towers were left without heat, potable water or working elevators.
Before the evacuation, Latitude Five25 was the site of more than 1,000 calls to police between Jan. 7, 2020, and Jan. 6, 2022, according to court documents. Overdoses, stabbings, fights and regular calls to shootings plagued the towers, the city’s complaints alleged. They also listed roach infestations, bedbugs, busted pipes, water damage, broken doors and broken windows in housing inspector reports.
In a statement, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said the city “wanted a seat at the table to fight for the tenants.”
“Our position is clear: We need real money and concrete plan for the tenants and the future of the towers, and we will work with the owners and the court to get one done,” Klein said. “We will meet with the owners’ representatives to flesh out these details, and remain hopeful for a final settlement that balances our priorities and delivers for the residents who continue to suffer due to the landlord’s gross negligence.”