The Herald Bulletin

July 7, 2013

Mortgage holder moves to foreclose on Delaware Court Apartments

Other downtown apartments struggle in difficult economy

By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Another downtown apartment building has fallen on hard times and is in foreclosure.

Bayview Loan Servicing LLC, which loaned Brooklyn, New York, investor Gilberto P. Rodriguez, $300,000 to buy the property at 120 W. 10th St. in late 2007, has filed a lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court 3 to reclaim the 40-unit apartment building because of non-payment.

With interest and penalties, Bayview claimed in court documents that Rodriguez owes the company approximately $391,813.

That leaves current tenants — some of whom have received copies of the lawsuit — with an uncertain housing future, and more questions than answers. Tenants said they make rent payments to Gold Key Properties of Anderson.

Residents say the apartments haven't been maintained well since Rodriguez assumed ownership. An entire section is padlocked, and concrete stairs in the back have crumbled and collapsed. The steam heating system doesn't work well in winter, and some of the units are infested with bedbugs, mice and cockroaches.

Gold Key owner Linda Babbitt, who has managed the apartments since August 2011, said the owners also owe her money for repairs and maintenance.

Babbitt treated the apartments for bedbugs, but said some residents have brought people and furniture infested with the parasites into apartments. In addition, residents leave food out and trash in hallways instead of using on-site dumpsters, which only lures the vermin back.

"I can't get them to stop it," Babbitt said. "We manage more than 300 properties and it's very frustrating. That's the only one I can't get a handle on."

Pam Wilcox said she moved from Tower Place Apartments to Delaware Court five years ago to help a relative and wishes she could go back.

"I lived there and I loved it," Wilcox said. "If I could get (apartment) 1203 again, I'd go back in a heartbeat."

One man waiting to meet friends who only have his name as John, shook his head sadly Friday when he learned of the foreclosure. John said he lived there in the early 1990s and loved it.

"It was a good, clean, immaculate building," he said. "It was lovely . . . I don't understand how the city can let these buildings fall apart like this."

Rob Sparks, executive director of the Anderson-Madison Corporation for Economic Development, owned the building from 1996 until he sold to Rodriguez in 2007.

"When I bought that building it was predominantly occupied by elderly residents," but that began to change as those tenants began to move out and die, he said.

A building that size — Delaware Court has about 40 units — has to be 90 percent leased with rent payments up-to-date, in order to be economically viable, especially since the owners typically pay all utilities, Sparks said.

What has occurred at Delaware Court has been caused by declining population over the past 20 years and the lack of economic opportunity in Anderson, Sparks added.

The fate of Delaware Court has been shared by at least two other downtown apartment houses over the past several years, all of which were built during the late 1920s and early 1930s.

These include Beverly Terrace apartments at 11th Street and Central Avenue, and Tower Place Apartments on Jackson Street.

Tom Stanley, part owner of the troubled Arbor Village complex, was renovating and marketing Beverly Terrace as condominiums, but a potential buyer of the entire property could not obtain bank financing, and the sale stalled, said Rusty Hasting of Broadway Realty Inc., who was marketing the property.

A Carmel real estate investor, Youri Frakine, acquired Tower Place at auction for $100,000 in February. Workman have been renovating the apartments since then, but it's not clear when units will be available for rent.

Then in early March, the YMCA of Madison County announced that the second and third floors of its downtown building will be converted into 30 apartments over the next two years as part of a project that marries historic preservation with low-income housing for seniors.

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