‘Someone has to step in’: How landlord began own crime crackdown

Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 11:23 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s been roughly two weeks since a mobile camo security unit appeared at the Landings @237 Apartments.

Since then, the owner and commissioners have gotten mixed reviews from the community.

We spoke with the new owner of the complex. He tells us he never meant to stumble into a political minefield after buying the property in February. All he wants to do is provide secure, safe, and affordable housing here in Augusta.

Formerly known as Fox Den, the Landings is in an area with several apartment complexes that have long been a hub of crime.

People have been complaining about it for years, but the matter seems to have reached a tipping point when 17-year-old Zayquantez Jones was shot dead last month at a convenience store just outside the complex.

That’s when the new owner installed a mobile unit that serves as a sort of security tower.

The security unit is just one of the changes under the new owner.

“The name used to be Candyland. And apparently, you can get whatever you want. And we’re not talking about candy. It’s Candyland no more,” he said.

The owner asked us not to use his name. He bought the property in February after he says the previous owners left the place in shambles.

“We programmatically started to fix roofs, renovate for renovations of units, new floors, new kitchens, new bathrooms, new LED lighting,” said the owner.

But the biggest issue is crime.

“We noticed that there were there was significant criminal activity on the property. We needed to keep certain traffic and behaviors outside of the property,” he said.

He took matters into his own hands.

“I felt terrible that they had to live through crime and gunshots, and gangs and all kinds of criminal elements due to my property. And that that can’t continue,” he said.

He decided to put up a camo mobile security unit with bright lights, cameras, and a siren so people could sleep at night.

“I know there was a big uproar over the tower, but where was the uproar of Zayquantez Jones? Where was that? That was chalk mark 200 feet outside of the property lines. I would love to see the same uproar over that. Versus a tower that, therefore, to secure my property,” he said.

He says it’s needed for safety.

“The tenants of this community and the neighbors of this community deserve a community that does not involve gunshots and criminal activity,” he said.

The property owner says crime can’t be solved without action.

“At some point, someone has to step in and make it stop and collaboratively with neighbors, with law enforcement, with the commissioners. This is something that we’re trying to affect change,” he said.

The owner tells us he’s spent millions on these projects. There are security measures many are not aware of and that he cannot share, but it is all to make Augusta a safer place to live.

We asked him if he had anything to say about the sign with the official city logo and the commissioners’ names on it.

He says that was his idea to thank Augusta Commission members Catherine Smith McKnight and John Clarke for their efforts in getting the crime under control. That crime disappeared, but the security stand is still there.