The disagreement lies between homeowners Jeanne Goins and Brenda Andrada, and Northcrest Townhome Complex on Northcrest Circle off Pryor Road. The two women appeared before the City Council on Feb. 13, and again on April 9.
Realtor Mike Hodnett, who took over management of 26 of 39 units in February also appeared at the Feb. 13 meeting to assure the women improvements were being made at the complex.
He said again in an April 11 interview that something is being done to improve conditions of the complex, but he needs time to make changes. At that time, about 21 of the apartments were empty and in the process of being renovated.
The townhomes were built within the city limits in 1980 by Lake Kimsey, but are now owned by his widow. Goins said conditions have deteriorated over the years. The decline in appearance has been worsened by graffiti in the last three or four years.
“We’re still having problem with the booming (car radios) and cars coming in and out,” Goins said. “There’s still quite a few violations of apartment restrictions.
“When they were built, it was our understanding, because we tried to get them stopped in the beginning ... that they were going to be very nice resident-owned condominiums. However, it has turned into basically row housing.”
She said a desirable environment and high standards and high property values have not been maintained as stated in the covenant agreement titled, “Restrictive condition on row housing in the Northcrest Townhouse Complex.”
Hodnett said he became interested in the housing complex because he is a partner in about $4 million in properties west of Northcrest, including Heritage Place office complex.
“I can’t afford to have a slum right next door to my property because it makes my property go down in value 10 percent and $400,000 — that’s huge money to me.”
Hodnett, who owns two units, said the condition of the property simply got away from the elderly owner of most of the apartments.
“We have other people who own there and this causes a little bit of a problem because you lose control,” he said.
When Hodnett took over, he said anyone who wasn’t paying their rent or had people living there who weren’t on the lease or anyone who was a “problem” was evicted.
He approached Cleveland Police Chief Wes Snyder, Public Works Director Tommy Myers, Mayor Tom Rowland and the full Council in February.
“I’ve asked for some help. I’m sad we weren’t able to do the very first thing I wanted, which was to pave Northcrest Circle,” he said.
The circle has not been paved since the complex was built 31 years ago and it is not on the 2012 paving list. Each of the 39 units are deeded separately and between the city and county, there have been 2,428 tax payments made since Northcrest Circle was paved. He would like to have the loop through the complex resurfaced, then stripe and seal the circle.
“It looks 100 times better when you pave the road and put down asphalt sealer,” he said.
But, the Realtor said there has been some indecision by city staff and officials as to whether Northcrest Circle is a road or a private driveway. If it is not a road, then Public Works will not pick up bulk garbage. Household garbage is one of the complaints.
Hodnett insists he can improve the appearance of the complex to make it compatible with the neighborhood if given enough time, but evictions can take nearly 60 days if the tenant doesn’t leave willingly.
“I try to be as accommodating with undesirable tenants as I can. It goes a lot easier if you don’t have to go to court and you can actually make this move a little better, timewise,” he said. “Now we’ve got a bad reputation and I aim to do something about it.”
But, he said nothing comes easy.
“I had a lady in a wheelchair I had to kick out, and that doesn’t look good, but I can probably get away with it easier than most,” said Hodnett, who also uses a wheelchair. “She had a yapping dog. I got rid of her first thing. She was the first to go.” (The dog was not the only reason the woman was forced out.)
He expects to put good renters in place by looking for people with long-term employment, clean police records and credit ratings at least in the mid-600 range.
“But, obviously with a lot of rental property you can’t wait until that 650-plus person comes along,” said Hodnett, who manages about 150 properties.
Goins said the multifamily residential complex affects the values of neighboring single-family homes, yet no one has complained.
“We’re affected as much as the people who live there,” Goins said at the Council meeting. “Until those units are fixed — I mean gutted and fixed, you’re not going to be able to get the rent high enough, you’re not going to be able to keep the riffraff out and as long as they’re taking government subsidies for the apartments — they are still going to be an eyesore. It’s a vicious circle. They are still devaluating our property. They are still bringing a bad element into the neighborhood and they are going to be a constant problem for the city. I’m not talking about just for the neighborhood because I will be standing up here if I have to until somebody goes over there and does something.”
Hodnett said during the interview that his next steps are to form an association of owners and have three large trash bins placed on site.
In the meantime, the police department is stuck in the middle in trying to serve both sides and perform its normal peace-keeping functions.
According to a report compiled by police, there were 21 events recorded for Northcrest in the first 27 days of March. Six of the 21 events were noise disturbance calls made by the public. Five of the six were from Andrada. Eight of the 21 events were self-initiated patrol activities such as extra patrol, saturation details, and warrant attempts.
Calls included three domestic disturbances at the location, one emergency medical response to an overdose, one request from Hodnett for extra patrol, one call from Andrada in reference to children outside with a pellet gun, and one call for a fight in the parking lot of the complex.
The report stated that as of March 27, Hodnett Realty has evicted residents from apartments 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 27, 31 and 32. As of the date of the report, only apartment No. 17 had been rented.
Hodnett said Goins and Andrada will not be happy until the complex is condemned and shutdown.
“This is a diamond in the rough. All of these surrounding properties are nice. This is my diamond in the rough. I’m fixing to make it a diamond, but right now it’s nothing but a chunk of coal.”