COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The city of Columbus is close to an agreement with the company owning Latitude Five25 apartments – asking them to sell the crime-ridden, unsanitary complex within three months of the resolution.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said in a press release Tuesday he expects to finalize the agreement with management company Paxe Latitude in the “coming weeks.” Latitude Five25, a 400-unit complex located on Sawyer Boulevard, has been the subject of the city’s scrutiny since 2021 for multiple code violations – including bug infestations, trash scattered on the grounds and feces in a stairwell.

“At this point, improving conditions at Latitude Five25 means bringing in new ownership to take control,” Klein said. “The city is working with all parties to facilitate a sale of the property so that residents can finally see a real quality of life improvement.”

Paxe Latitude declined to comment.

The agreement would require Paxe Latitude to sell the complex within 90 days and pay a $50,000 contempt fine. Between the agreement finalization and then, the property owners would be required to maintain the premises – or be replaced by a city-appointed manager.

New Jersey-based Paxe Latitude took over management of Latitude Five25 from Skyview Apartments in 2021 at no cost. In March, the city took Paxe Latitude to court over the complex’s conditions. 

In August and September, the city filed multiple contempt orders against the company as residents spent “significant periods” in flooded apartments without hot water or electricity. Residents reported their maintenance and security concerns often went unaddressed as conditions in apartments and common areas continued to deteriorate.

More than 1,000 calls for service at the apartments were made between Jan. 7, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2022, according to court documents. Overdoses, stabbings, drugs, and fights — as well as regular calls to shootings — plagued the towers, the city’s complaints alleged. The city’s complaints outline housing inspector reports of roach infestations, bed bugs, busted pipes, water damage, broken doors, broken windows, and trash and inoperable cars on the property.

The city previously placed an injunction on Paxe Latitude in February, ordering the owners to maintain constant security, respond to maintenance requests within 24 hours, address emergency violations within 26 hours and resolve non-emergency violations within 14 days.

Klein told NBC4 that while he and his team will help search for new ownership, he doesn’t have the final authority. Still, he hopes new owners will bring improved conditions for the residents at Latitude Five25.

“We need to find someone who understands a large apartment complex, who has the financial wherewithal to make the necessary improvements, that are willing to invest in security so that we don’t find ourselves in the same position in a couple years,” Klein said.

Anna Hoffman contributed to this report.