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Lake Arbor Owners Say Repairs, Mounting Fines Require Shutting Complex Down

New York investors who own Lake Arbor Apartments say they'll spend at least $2 million over the next year to renovate the complex.
New York investors who own Lake Arbor Apartments say they'll spend at least $2 million over the next year to renovate the complex. But first, they want all tenants to be out by Dec. 31.

A lawyer for owners of the run-down Lake Arbor Apartments in west Charlotte says they decided to move all tenants out to make it easier to renovate the complex - and to avoid mounting expenses, including fines for building code violations.

Tenants of the 45-year-old apartment complex have complained for years about plumbing and electrical problems, mold and rats. Since a sweep by city inspectors last fall, the New York-based owners have racked up several hundred thousand dollars in daily fines, said Charlotte lawyer Erik Rosenwood.

"Those continue to accumulate as we are trying to renovate the properties. And so one of the considerations is that when you go in and you close the property down and you turn it into a construction site, not only will we be finished faster, but there's certain circumstances under which the fines stop accruing," Rosenwood told WFAE on Thursday.

Rosenwood's comments were the first by the owners since notices went out July 30 informing tenants that they have until Dec. 31 to vacate their apartments. Some whose leases have already expired were given even less time - until Aug. 31.   

Rosenwood said rising costs were a key factor in the decision to shut down the complex, rather than trying to work around existing tenants during the renovations.

He said the owners also face other expenses, such as legal bills from tenant lawsuits.

And he said they expect to spend at least $2 million to rehabilitate the 288 apartments, of which only about 177 are occupied right now. 

Renovations could be finished by next summer, when the apartments would re-open, with higher market-rate rents, Rosenwood said. But he says some long-term tenants who have paid their rent reliably over the years could be invited back - at below market-rate rents. 

David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.