ATLANTA — A spokesman for Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ office confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that Forest Cove Apartments could be demolished by the end of March.
The news follows statements made by Dickens just before the holidays, where Channel 2 Action News reported the mayor said “Either they will tear this property down, or I will.”
Now, the mayor’s office said they want to move on this by the end of the quarter.
It was the next step of a now long-running process to deal with the many issues at the property, currently owned by Millennia Housing Management, an Ohio-based housing company.
In December, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed the company’s federal funding was at risk across the U.S.
Channel 2 Action News reported last month that “HUD is holding them accountable by demanding repayment of misappropriated funds, seeking to impose civil money penalties on those responsible, and issuing a suspension and proposing debarment. That means the company and its President are immediately prohibited from entering into new business with any federal government agency, including HUD, and HUD is taking steps to bar Millennia CEO Frank T. Sinito and the Millennia Housing Management from all federal government programs, including the Section 8 program, for five years,” according to HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing Programs Ethan Handelman.
For Atlanta officials, site evaluations, remediation of hazards, and securing a demolition permit for the property are all part of the plan. The mayor’s office said they’re also seeking to apply a lien to the property after it is demolished.
In a recent interview with Channel 2′s Karyn Greer, Dickens said the apartment complex has been a complicated challenge for the city for decades. As mayor, he said dealing with it is one of his biggest priorities.
“As soon as I came into office to say, this place has been condemned, these individuals are living in this unsuitable condition where there’s mold, mildew, rodents, all over the place in high crime. And so we helped to move all of those residents out into safe, stable, affordable housing throughout the region. And now we want to redevelop the area,” Dickens said. “But what’s happened is the owners of Forest Cove because it’s not a city-owned property. This is owned by Millennia Properties, who owns hundreds of properties across the nation, they have been negligent in keeping up the property and boarding it up, fencing it up and taking steps towards making it a better site, they’ve done nothing.”
Their lack of action is what has prompted such a strong response from Dickens and other city leaders.
“Within the next couple of months, we’re looking to make a move on having this torn down so that the communities are rounded, and the residents can have their peace of mind. And then we’ll take the next steps,” Dickens continued. “We do have a class action lawsuit plan against Millennia. And the residents in Atlanta as well as those residents in places like Cleveland and Mississippi, and Florida and in other places across the region. They are all lining up to say we have been, you know, forced to take steps, you know, to take care of residents because Millennia has been negligent in other places as well.”
As previously reported, Millennia operates or manages four affordable housing properties in Georgia, in addition to their current ownership of Forest Cove Apartments in Atlanta. The company is also countersuing the city of Atlanta.
The other Millennia properties in Georgia are:
- Ava Park in Griffin, Ga.
- Ballard Way/Hunter Haven Apartments in Columbus, Ga.
- Majestic Gardens/Wilshire Woods Apartments in Macon, Ga.
- Blossom Hill/Villa West Apartments in Macon, Ga.
Channel 2 Action News has reached out to Millennia for comment and are waiting for their response.
[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]
IN OTHER NEWS:
This browser does not support the video element.