COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The authorization of new management at the Latitude Five25 apartments has been assigned and approved.
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein’s office announced Monday that New Perspective Asset Management, LLC (NPAM) will serve as receiver for the east Columbus apartment building on Sawyer Boulevard near Interstates 71 and 670.
The receivership group will assume property management duties by taking over “day-to-day operations at the site, maintain security and develop a plan to bring the site back to productive use”. The release states that NPAM has extensive previous receivership experience and has been appointed in approximately 100 cases by the Environmental Court.
“Without a doubt, the residents are our priority,” NPAM Receiver Dana Milligan said.
According to a court order in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Paxe Latitude, the current owners of the property, must allow NPAM to evaluate the condition of the property, develop an appropriate rehabilitation plan to bring the property back to a usable state, and maintain the safety and security of the site throughout the receivership process until the eventual sale of the property is complete.
“Putting it into receivership, well, first of all, it puts someone in charge other than the owners,” Milligan said. “It puts someone in charge to take care of making the evaluation of what is going to be done with the property.”
Klein’s office said that Paxe Latitude must turn over all keys, other forms of access and critical documents, including information regarding utilities, service contracts, employment, tenant ledgers and deposit accounts, among other items, within five business days.
Within two hours of NPAM receiving the keys to the property, security was on the ground, but because of the condition the building was left in, it will take time to evaluate it.
“We have to make this a safe transition for everyone getting through this, with the asbestos issue that’s going on there now,” Milligan said. “I have a list that I need to start and that is, you know, electric, water, elevators so that we can start working and to get in and make the evaluation.”
As receiver, NPAM is still subject to all court orders in place on the property, including orders to maintain safe, secure and sanitary conditions at the property. The same orders will remain with the property even after the eventual sale of the complex.
Klein said that while he’s optimistic about the receivership, it won’t be easy.
“I think we have to be honest and set expectations about the bad news because of the amount of neglect and disrepair of the building and, frankly, the amount of asbestos that has been exposed over the past two years,” he said.
Paxe Latitude was previously denied its claim of bankruptcy by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of New Jersey, which allowed the takeover of the apartments to proceed. Paxe Latitude filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 20 in New Jersey. The company was fined on Feb. 17 for its failure to abide by multiple provisions of an agreement it entered with the city of Columbus.
In November of 2022, the city and Paxe Latitude reached an agreement with the city to transfer ownership of Latitude525 within 90 days.
The 400-unit apartment complex has stood empty since late December after residents were evacuated on Christmas when a pipe burst and left them without drinkable water. The former tenants of the 400-unit towers had only one working elevator and without potable water, heat or fire systems the day after pipes burst.
Latitude Five25 also 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 were a regular occurrence at the apartments, the city’s complaints alleged. They also listed roach infestations, bedbugs, busted pipes, water damage, broken doors and broken windows in housing inspector reports.
Klein said he and his team are willing to do whatever it takes to bring justice to the displaced tenants.
“I know these folks have been suffering for a long time, wanting their stuff back,” Klein said. “They’ve been put through the wringer because of the previous (owners), and I want them to know that we’re not going to give up.”
There is currently no timeline for when NPAM will finish the evaluation of the property.
The city said it is currently searching for a new permanent owner of the property.