What’s the status of promised changes at Bon Air Apartments?

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 3:25 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2022 at 6:38 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - An Augusta Commission member is offering an update on safety concerns at the historic Bon Air Apartments.

Since December, Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight has been working with the new owners. Back in December, we found in six months, there had been 156 police reports filed within a one-mile radius of the apartments.

McKnight said she’s met the owners of the property several times. They’ve owned the property for about a year as well as the Richmond Summit. Residents have expressed concerns over safety, crime, drugs, and other conditions.

She went on a walk-through with the fire chief a while back and the next day, the fire chief sent teams to conduct a fire inspection on the building.

She said the inspection found 19 violations. She has contacted code enforcement officials about doing an inspection as well.

McKnight said she doesn’t feel the owners have not lived up to the improvements they told the Augusta Commission they would make back in January.

The question is how will they be resolved?

It’s home to hundreds of low-income renters. Some who aren’t happy.

“A lot of them are saying that they have water dripping through the ceilings. The doors--people were coming in and out,” she said.

“Oh goodness. I walked in and needed a mask, the stairwell... dried up urine in it. The carpet looked damp,” she said.

Concerns that sound all too familiar.

“These investors buy these places, and then they let it go by the wayside and don’t do anything. The people that live here, that live inside of them, they’re the ones being affected,” she said.

Our I-TEAM found Richmond County ranks third in the country for out-of-state buyers.

Azalea Park, Bon Air, Richmond Summit, Fox Den--- all low-income apartments, owned by out-of-state companies.

Having had similar code enforcement complaints for years.

“It’s not just one or two, there’s probably a dozen of them out there, maybe more,” said McKnight.

The city doesn’t cite out-of-state investors for code violations, instead, they site property managers that can’t fix the problems.

Without accountability, the problems persist.

“We need to talk about it and figure out what the city can do,” she said.

McKnight says she’d like commissioners to hold a work session and discuss options for how to address these issues at several public housing locations. Bon Air owners have 30 days to repair all the fire violations, and the code enforcement will conduct an evaluation.

We reached out to Redwood Housing, the owners of Bon Air and Richmond Summit. We asked about the progress of their short-term and long-term goals presented at commission back in January.

They told us they’ve installed alarms at all back and side doors, and they’re adding security cameras in the next 90 days. They anticipate beginning large-scale renovations within 12 months and maintenance teams are on-site correcting the fire violations.

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