COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — From bashed-in doors to bullet holes, there’s evidence of Colonial Village’s difficult past still to be seen at the 508-unit complex on Rand Avenue.

Although crime still occurs there — including an incident reported early Tuesday — it has dropped since the development of 34 parcels and 96 buildings has been in the hands of the Robert Weiler Company, which was granted receivership of the property by the city.

Security first

One hundred cameras installed high up on the apartment walls now allow the security staff to track illegal activity through monitors in the leasing office. Guards also patrol the grounds all day and into the early morning hours.

“We boarded up any of the vacant units to help keep out any trouble,” said Alex Marsh, vice-president of the Robert Weiler Company. “As we turned the units, we can take the boards down. So we’ve been in the process of doing that.

“Since we took over the receivership, I don’t think there’s been any serious crimes out here.”

Fix up units, make them affordable

“We did research, and it’s one of the most affordable complexes in the city,” Marsh said, with one-bedroom units renting for about $600 per month. “Our goal when we took over was to maintain an affordable — but make it safe — apartment community.”

Marsh said the receiver began with about 170 vacant units, now down to about 140.

“We’re in the process of fixing up as many of the units as we can,” Marsh said. “Water damage and exposed outlets and broken windows were common problems. Our plan is to do 10-20 per month fixing up. It depends based on the condition of the unit.”

Maintenance challenges

Staffing shortages mean maintenance is a challenge. Around the complex are weeds, high grass, and trash.

“It’s very hard to find labor,” Marsh said. “But we have been able to find a couple consistent maintenance guys. And we have been bringing in third-party contractors to help fix up the units.”

A landscape company has been scheduled to begin work soon.

Marsh said dumpsters will get new walls around them. Abandoned cars get tagged and towed if no one claims them.

New owner in the cards

A potential buyer for Colonial Village pledged an additional $12 million for unit renovation.

“The plan has all the units habitable within the next two years,” Marsh said, adding that the potential buyer has gone through several vetting interviews with the City of Columbus.

There’s already a waiting list for the rehabbed units, Marsh said.

“Once we get the units fixed up, we can usually put someone in it within a couple days,” he said. “The key is to find an affordable, safe place for people which is what we’re trying to do.”