Squeaky clean it ain’t.
Water leaks, mold and mice infestations are among the problems residents at Omni America’s Garden Spires apartment complex in Newark allege plague their units despite a recent $58 million renovation.
The complex, which consists of two 20-story story towers and 550 units, is the subject of a petition from the Garden Spires Tenant Association, according to NJ.com. The petition demanding a fix for mold, leaks, mice and holes in the walls has reportedly been signed by at least 187 people.
Omni America, a real estate development and management firm co-founded by former Major League Baseball player Mo Vaughn, purchased the complex from First King Properties in 2018 for $45.3 million.
City officials claim Omni spent $172 million to renovate Garden Spires and another nearby complex before completing work last March. An Omni spokesperson told NJ.com that the Garden Spires work cost $57.8 million, but five residents told the outlet the renovations didn’t exceed “patchwork.”
The spokesperson said an unforeseen plumbing issue detected last month forced the replacement of the entire plumbing line and led to water being cut off during business hours in residents’ kitchens.
However, plumbing may not be the only issue. Last month, code enforcement officers reportedly found roach and mice infestations, bathroom leaks, overloaded dumpsters and defective stoves, in addition to issues with entry doors for the two buildings and water leakage in several units.
Meanwhile, the building keeps passing inspections. In September, HUD scored the building 96 out of 100 during an inspection. Meanwhile, the Department of Community Affairs claims to have received no complaints since Omni took ownership — it still lists 406 open violations, according to NJ.com, though more than 20 percent are due to lack of unit access.
Prior to Omni’s ownership, First King ran into multiple problems at the building. In 2017, Mayor Ras Baraka filed a lawsuit against First King and HUD over what he alleged were inhabitable conditions in both of the complex’s towers.
The recent allegations from tenants is not the first time Vaughn has faced scrutiny for the way his company treats and deals with residents. In 2017, the former slugger was accused by New York City’s Human Rights Commission of discriminating against tenants on federal assistance programs, including Section 8 vouchers.
[NJ.com] — Holden Walter-Warner