Concerns Raised Over Turning Around Troubled Brooklyn Park Apartment Complex
Members of the Brooklyn Park City Council are raising concerns over whether a new ownership group’s efforts to turn around the city’s largest apartment complex won’t end up in a similar situation as the previous owner.
The Huntington Place apartments, located in the 5800 block of 73rd Avenue North, has consumed an inordinate amount of police resources in recent years. One incident last month involved a 2-year-old boy accidentally getting shot and killed.
“When our Tip 411 goes off, and it’s the same address basically, consistently, with the guns and the violence at Huntington, many of the things they’re planning to invest in I feel like at this point, if we don’t get to the root cause, if they’re going to be fixing walls that have holes in them, et cetera, et cetera, they’ll be right back to how we are today real quickly,” said Brooklyn Park City Council member Lisa Jacobson at the Aug. 24 Economic Development Authority meeting.
Aeon, a nonprofit Twin Cities-based developer, purchased the property in January. The new owners plan to keep rents affordable for the long term. The previous ownership group, Dominium, had drawn the ire of the city over numerous tenant problems with building conditions in disrepair and in violation of city codes. Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde went so far as to calling Dominium “slumlords.”
Because of COVID-19, “Everything is Moving Slower”
At the beginning of the year, the Brooklyn Park Economic Development Authority, which consists of council members, approved a $5 million loan agreement with Aeon. Aeon can’t tap into the EDA-loan funds until a certain amount of improvements are made.
“Right now they need to get stuff done before our investment,” said Lunde.
The mayor also recently toured the property to gauge progress over the last seven months.
“The effect of COVID, they’ve been hiring staff, but everything is moving slower,” Lunde said.
Aeon is asking the city for adjustments to its timeline and investment strategy due to COVID-19. The city is currently in “preliminary conversations,” said Erika Byrd, development project coordinator with the EDA. The city is also currently reviewing plans for camera security upgrades on the property.
Lunde says another reason progress has taken longer than expected is Governor Tim Walz’s eviction moratorium. The executive order aims to help people who can no longer afford rent due to COVID-19 economic woes. Lunde says Aeon management told him the moratorium has made it much more difficult to evict problem tenants.
“As the rules are lightened up on the eviction, it’s really going to be about evicting the people that I think to everyone concerned are causing the problems for the other 85% of the tenants who are just there wanting a home,” said Lunde.