COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus City Attorney's Office filed a lawsuit against an apartment complex in South Franklinton on Tuesday, citing hundreds of police calls and code violations in the past few years.
Southpark Apartments, a 356-unit complex, is one of the largest affordable housing developments in Columbus and has been a source of concern for the city.
Columbus Division of Police has received more than 800 calls to Southpark Apartments spanning from August 2021 to July 2022, according to court documents. Among those calls were reports of stolen vehicles, domestic violence incidents, shots fires, stabbings, overdoses and other criminal activity.
Alongside the reports of violence and drug abuse, the city attorney’s office said many residents are “subjected to substandard, unsafe and unsanitary living conditions.”
“Everyone deserves a safe, clean place to live, but the fact is that hundreds of Columbus residents are denied those basic rights through no fault of their own due to ongoing crime and deplorable living conditions at Southpark,” said City Attorney Zach Klein. “The city will continue to work with Southpark management to ensure a better, safer quality of life for tenants, and securing this court order would be a major win for residents and a step in the right direction.”
The city recorded 200 code violations during a November 2021 property inspection which included roach and rodent infestations, missing smoke detectors, damaged ceilings, rotting balcony decking, broken windows, exposed wiring and more.
Following the inspection, the management at Southpark Apartments was given a deadline to make repairs, but the deadline passed with only minimal repairs made, according to code officials.
Last April, the Columbus Department of Building and Zoning Services found a stairwell that had been deteriorated and was considered dangerous, causing four apartments to be vacated. Additionally, code re-inspected 87 units and 160 code violations were still outstanding from the original November inspection.
In June, several units were re-inspected and 13 had been brought into compliance, but 80 units still had code violations.
In a release, the city attorney’s office said they have asked the court to order Southpark Apartment management to present a plan that will help cut crime and bring the property back into compliance with city code.
“The health and safety of residents is our number one priority and the conditions at Southpark Apartments represent a significant hazard to the community. From the revolving door of criminal activity to units that are so unsafe and unsanitary they’re near uninhabitable,” said Assistant City Attorney Zach Gwin, who is the Zone Initiative attorney for the city’s west side. “It’s important that the city steps in to ensure conditions improve.”