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Ralston threatened condemnation of apartment complex tied to Legacy Crossing

Posted at 7:42 PM, Dec 20, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — When the City of Omaha condemned Legacy Crossing on Monday, another local apartment complex stood out: Fireside Village in Ralston.

Like Legacy Crossing, it's listed on the website of investment firm VCM Global Asset Management. The same goes for the property management company: Avantic Residential.

And as Ralston City Administrator Rick Hoppe says: It's been a problem for Ralston like Legacy Crossing was for Omaha.

He said from late 2020 through 2021 the "number one" subject of complaints was those from Fireside Village. There were some "serious structural concerns" and other maintenance issues.

Things eventually came to a head in September 2021. Citing "very little progress" in addressing concerns, the City of Ralston warned the certificate of occupancy would be removed building by building if fixes weren't made by the end of the month.

Hoppe said progress was made then. But things have changed for the worse again, he said.

"We've seen now another rise in property maintenance issues," Hoppe said. "Broken doors, locks that don't work and continuing complaints about some of the maintenance that appears not to be happening anymore."

Issues cited by Ralston before condemnation was threatened include damage to a load-bearing wall, "copious amounts of human excreta" allowed to remain spilled in the apartment after "several months," a sagging roof in a garage, allowing animal waste to remain in an apartment after a pet was left unattended after the death of the tenant and other violations.

The documents provided by the City of Ralston are included in their entirety below or by clicking here.

The Sept. 15, 2021, letter including the condemnation warning said they received no assurances work would be completed.

"Your staff informed the City that it was up to 'corporate' whether the repairs would in fact be scheduled and completed," reads the letter. "The lack of progress on serious health and safety issues has left the City with little recourse. Stronger measures will be taken to ensure compliance."

Hoppe said condemnation, and even the warning of condemnation is very rare.

"In my career, this is incredibly unique," Hoppe said. "The vast majority of property owners in the metro ... try to keep their properties at least at an acceptable bare minimum level."

"The ownership structure that we understand is that this building is owned by what we believe to be a hedge fund," Hoppe said. "Hedge funds are concerned with bottom line profit. They don't have experience managing properties and thus delegate that out to management companies. And what we saw was that the people on the ground weren't given the resources to address the problems. You never have things like this happen if it's an ownership group that has experience and has local ties so there are people that can put pressure on them to make things happen."

A resident of Fireside Village, who did not want to be identified with her place of residence due to an ongoing personal issue, said she's familiar with issues there. She said she has plumbing issues and her dishwasher has been broken with standing water for a year.

"They'll make appointments to come out, then they'll cancel on me last minute, say they'll reschedule, then they won't," she said. She stays there, though, because it's tough to find a replacement in her price range without moving out of the school district.

A voicemail left at Fireside Village Tuesday was not returned. VCM Global Asset Management and Avantic Residential also did not return requests for comment about Fireside Village in time for publication.

Legacy Crossing provided a statement through a public relations group, PR Americas in Mexico: "Legacy Crossing takes very seriously the safety of the residents, and states that no one has been injured because of a fire. We would have liked to have had more time in resolving issues identified by authorities and were already taking measures to that effect. Legacy Crossings has already invested USD7 million in property improvements, including renovation of three-quarters of the apartments. Furthermore, a court-appointed receiver has now been appointed who will continue managing and caring for the property.”

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