Saturday, November 12, 2016

Collapsing Ceilings & Walls, Mold & Safety Issues, Condemned Structures Make For Grim Prospects For Tenants At 40-Acre, 35-Building Apartment Complex; Property Manager, Out-Of-State Landlord Face Criminal Citations, Foreclosure On Defaulted $17.6 Million Mortgage While Remaining Residents Continue To Pay Rent

In Millcreek Township, Pennsylvania, the Erie Times-News reports:
  • Money, and not having enough of it, is what Denise Little says has kept her from already moving out of Granada Apartments.

    The 52-year-old home hospice health aide has been a tenant in the troubled Millcreek Township complex for two years. Her one-bedroom apartment is in rough condition, with mold buildup in the bathroom, and a chunk of soggy ceiling in her living room she fears will soon crash down.

    Six buildings at Granada Apartments, including one office building, have been condemned by fire officials since late August after the township started a complex-wide inspection following a balcony collapse at 5957 Jodie Lane in June that injured five people.

    The buildings were condemned due to water damage, fire risk and mold issues, and collapsed ceilings and walls.

    This Friday, at three of those buildings, residents in 20 occupied apartment units will have until 4 p.m. before they become officially displaced. Some of the tenants have already been relocated to other buildings in the 40-acre Granada complex, township officials said, while others have moved in with relatives, friends or gone elsewhere in the area.

    Little's building, at 1503 Sunrise Lake Drive, is not one of the six condemned structures. "But it sure should be," she said.

    The fate of Granada Apartments — a complex largely built in the 1970s and 1980s — and its tenants will continue to play out this week and until the end of the year: both at the Millcreek property and in a foreclosure case in Erie's federal court.

    Residents at 1683 Treetop Drive, 1693 Treetop Drive and 1702 Penelec Park Drive have to be out of the condemned buildings by Friday.

    The property manager, Granada Apartments LP, has until Nov. 28 to either demolish the three structures or significantly rehabilitate violations discovered in code enforcement inspections, said Matt Exley, Millcreek's chief fire inspector and emergency management director.

    Exley has been down this road before with Granada Apartments.

    The building at 1655 Penelec Park Drive was ordered condemned by the township on Aug. 24 for code violations, the first of six condemnations over the past two months.

    Exley said Granada Apartments LP and the Clover Group, the complex's owner in western New York, have missed deadlines set by the township indicating whether they would tear down the structure at 1655 Penelec Park Drive, or rehab the building and fix the code enforcement violations.

    Summary criminal citations are pending against the complex's owner and property manager, Exley said. "The township will eventually be in a position where we will tear down the (condemned buildings) and put a lien on the property to recover the costs," Exley added.

    Millcreek Township also has ordered Granada management to demolish the building at 1690 Treetop Drive, which has been condemned and is at risk of collapsing. Exley said Granada has until Dec. 22 to tear down the structure or the township will file additional summary criminal citations.
    ***
    Exley said during the township's inspections of roughly 700 apartments in 35 buildings in the Granada complex, "people told us they see inadequate maintenance on a daily basis." Exley did not have figures for the number of tenants in the complex.

    Forty-five units in the five condemned buildings combined were occupied. The Greater Erie County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Erie Home Team, which addresses homelessness, offered assistance to some residents, helping them find other places to live. Officials believe no tenants displaced are currently homeless.

    Exley said most of the problems in the condemned buildings occurred in unoccupied or abandoned apartments.

    In addition to the code violations, Granada Apartments is embroiled in a mortgage foreclosure lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Erie.

    U.S. Bank sued for foreclosure on Sept. 16, claiming the Clover Group, Granada's Buffalo-area owner, had defaulted on a mortgage with a principal balance of $17.6 million. [...] Granada remains in business, and continues to collect rent.

    Little, of Sunrise Lake Drive, said she hopes to move out of Granada Apartments at the end of January when her one-year lease is up.

    She said she would have moved sooner, but is locked into paying her $520 monthly rent for November, December and January.

    "I don't have a choice. I don't have the money for rent here, and for rent and a security deposit at a new place," Little said. "Soon it will be February, and then I'm out of here."

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