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Business & Economy

Judge orders owners of East Side apartments to pay $4.3 million and hand over property

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A Franklin County judge has ordered the owners of a problematic East Side apartment complex to pay $4.3 million and to immediately give up the property.

The judge ruled that Paxe Latitude, which owns the Latitude Five25 Apartments on Sawyer Boulevard, just off Interstate 670, should be held in contempt for violating numerous provisions of a January court order. The ruling also said a court-appointed receiver would begin managing property.

Last October, the City Attorney's office said they were nearing a deal to facilitate the sale of the towers where police responded to more than 1,000 calls over a two-year period.

“The ownership group at Latitude Five25 is unfit to continue operation and must be removed,” said Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein in an emailed statement.

“The City will do everything in its power to ensure these owners pay this judgement, including holding each of them personally liable if we need to. They spent years ruining the lives of tenants. They need to be held accountable. Pay up and get out,” the statement said.

Klein has said Columbus Police received more than 1,000 calls for service to the premises between Jan. 7, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2022, including calls for shots fired, shootings, overdoses, narcotics complaints, reports of domestic violence and assault, and fights on the property.

The apartments have also had reported rodent infestations in recent years. On Christmas Day, all of the remaining residents were evacuated after a pipe burst.

The court order said Paxe Latitude violated multiple provisions of the Jan. 2023 agreement, including failing to sell the property by the required date and keep up with utility payments. Franklin County Municipal Court Environmental Division Judge Stephanie Mingo imposed a $2.5 million fine to be paid by March 3, 2023, to refund any paid January rent, reimburse out of pocket expenses incurred by tenants as a result of displacement, and compensate Legal Aid attorney fees. Paxe has also been ordered to pay $1.13 million to the City of Columbus and $750,000 to Franklin County by March 13, 2023, to reimburse costs associated with temporarily housing displaced tenants.

Paxe Latitude did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Business & Economy Zach KleinHousing