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Owners working to sell troubled north side apartment complex

UPDATE: The mayor’s office provided the following update in a statement to News 8 on Tuesday:

“Late yesterday, the City received written confirmation that the mortgage lender for Lakeside Pointe, current ownership, and a prospective buyer are close to finalizing the terms of a proposed sale of the property and assumption of the mortgage loan by the prospective buyer. The City and HHC have granted the prospective buyer and lender’s request to stay the filing of the nuisance lawsuit until the end of February, during which time the sale is expected to be finalized. The City and HHC will remain in contact with all parties throughout the process; if an agreement is not reached before that time, the nuisance suit will be filed. If a sale is finalized before the end of February, the City will work with the new owner on a plan to abate the violations and the nuisance, but the new owner will be expected to comply fully with its responsibilities to the tenants.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — City and health leaders say they are fed up with a troubled north side apartment complex.

They’re giving owners of the Lakeside Pointe at Nora apartments until Monday to fix a long list of problems, or they’re heading to court.

The city plans to sue after a number of health and housing violations at the apartment complex. The complex has also seen several fires. For example, its clubhouse was destroyed in June 2021 and the damage is still visible.

Through this action, the city intends to test current judicial interpretations of the nuisance statute, some of which call into question the city’s ability to use emergency calls for service as the basis for proving a nuisance or as a measure of a city’s damages if it prevails in a nuisance lawsuit.

Lakeside Pointe has also been cited numerous times for violations of the Unsafe Building Law and Indianapolis’ vacant building standards. City officials say the frequent fires and other structural issues at the complex have left significant portions of the complex vacant — or structurally unsound to the point of being uninhabitable — and the owners have not taken the legally required remedial measures.

In a letter to Fox Lake AHF, Inc. from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Chief Executive Officer of the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County Paul T. Babcock, the city’s Department of Business and Neighborhood Services has issued 28 vacant board orders to Lakeside Pointe’s owners since January 2021.

These orders require buildings (or portions of buildings) that are vacant — whether from fire, structural damage, or simple neglect — must be boarded so they do not become magnets for crime, sources of vermin infestations, or safety threats. The letter goes on to say that while the owners have boarded the units in some cases after being ordered to do so, in other cases the city was forced to board the units itself (invoicing the cost to the owners) because of the owners’ non-compliance.

Hogsett says if property owners do not make real progress to fix these violations by Monday, the city and the health department will take them to court. City inspectors call many of these units uninhabitable.

“There are numerous families without hot water, units without sufficient heat and homes with mold and leaks and rotting ceilings,” Claire Holba, the executive director of Patchwork Indy, said.

Since 2017, the Marion County Public Health Department has issued well over 600 notices of violations of the housing code to these apartments. In February 2020, the city filed a zoning enforcement action against Lakeside Pointe’s owners for a number of violations of the zoning ordinance, including the failure to enclose dumpsters on the property and the improper outdoor storage of miscellaneous trash and debris.

“Property owners are obligated to do more than cash rent checks,” Hogsett said.

The mayor adds that repeated emergency services to Lakeside Pointe are costly for the city and residents.

To avoid the lawsuit the owners need to, at a minimum: address the current housing code violations identified by the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, including immediate remedying of all 19 identified violations that have warranted emergency filings by HHC; commit to attend the February 2022 hearing on the two pending building demolition orders and to comply promptly with the demolition orders if and when finalized; and properly enclose dumpsters as well as properly store garbage and debris on the property.

City leaders expressed their gratitude to tenant advocates who shared about the situation.