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UPDATE: Bon Air Apartments owner addresses fire and code violations

April 26th, 5:39 PM EDT
Updated:

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - Redwood Housing, the owner of the Bon Air Apartments, met with FOX54's Abby Bradshaw on Tuesday. Owners say most violations have been rectified. However, common areas lack air conditioning, the ballroom still needs attention and extensive renovation remains in limbo as owners await a possible tax credit. 

FOX54 first investigated claims of disrepair in March. Residents told us they face issues with rats, holes, mold and security. Through open records requests, we uncovered many of these problems are not new. Redwood Housing met with FOX54's Abby Bradshaw to address those concerns. Redwood Housing says they want to be a part of the solution. However, more violations were cited after our initial report. Plus, Representative Rick Allen is now calling on the Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate the Bon Air Apartments.

Some changes are now evident at Bon Air. However, this is only the beginning of a long road ahead for the historic structure.

 

At the entrance of Bon Air Apartments, you'll now find a desk, sign-in sheet and security guards. These were things the building did not have until FOX54's investigation pointed out security issues at the front entrance.

We followed up with a resident who pointed out the problem. She has had a front row seat to Bon Air's living conditions for more than a decade.

"I believe I've been here 28 years," said Mikeala Coffman, Bon Air Apartments resident.

Coffman says the building is close to her heart.

“I love it. I hope to stay here forever.” said Coffman.

However, she says it's been quite a ride throughout her stay.

"It’s been up and down. Depends on the management.”

But recently, Coffman says it's been more down than up. 

"My friends don’t want to come visit me because they are afraid." 

However, she remains hopeful.

"You've seen what has happened since last month. How are you feeling about how the ball is rolling?” asked Abby. 

"I think the ball is in a very positive motion. Because, before like I showed you, you could use the door and pop the door open and anyone could come in.” said Coffman.

The folks responsible for Bon Air say they know it’s time to do better.

"We understand what they’ve been going through for the last couple of years, even with us just coming in and purchasing this property within a year.” said Saletha Pierce, MMS Group.

After FOX54's initial investigation, Bon Air was cited for 19 fire code violations and several code enforcement violations. The follow-up results of the fire code violation inspection and the new code violation report can be read below.

Redwood Housing Director Nick Boehm says these issues have been rectified.

"We’ve completed our 100 percent unit inspections which have been put on hold due to COVID. We’re really excited to report that we’ve closed out all fire code enforcement findings and that’s all been signed off over a week ago.” said Boehm.

He also says there’s more to come.

"We’re going to have full building and parking lot coverage with security cameras which will be a meaningful benefit to the property and the residents.” said Boehm.

Meanwhile, extensive renovation remains on hold. Redwood Housing is still leaning on tax credits. But, an application does not guarantee funding.

"You know the broader renovation plans are most impactful with specific funding sources. That doesn’t change our commitment to this community.” said Boehm.

As for the district Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight, she just wants to stay in the loop.

"With them keeping me, us the commissioners, informed of what’s going on, that also puts it out to the community what’s being done here.” said McKnight.

She also wants to see consistency.

"It’s kind of like okay the owners are coming into town we got to get the property cleaned up and spruced up. So, I’d like to be able to come by here later this week and see what I’m seeing today if this is an everyday – if this is what goes on every day.” said McKnight.

As for Bon Air, management says it’s all about forward momentum.

"We’re getting better every day. We’re just as excited as ever about the opportunity to invest in this property and Augusta, Georgia.” said Boehm.

 

Meanwhile, Representative Rick Allen is awaiting a response from HUD. He sent a letter to them two weeks ago.  Rep. Allen cited FOX54’s report in his investigation request. He says he's not opposed to legal action, if necessary.

"I would think that some residents here and of course the county commission and others would then join some type of judicial action to make these folks perform. You know, that's why you have the judicial system." said Rep. Allen.

Rep. Allen also requested a meeting with HUD, the Bon Air Apartments owners and community advocates. FOX54 also asked to attend this meeting. As of Tuesday, HUD has not responded to Rep. Allen's request. His office gave HUD a deadline of May 4, 2022 to respond.

Count on FOX54 to continue leading the latest developments on the Bon Air Apartments. 

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