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Brooklyn Park apartment complex could change hands

Updated: November 19, 2019 11:01 PM

A Brooklyn Park apartment complex has been the focus of security concerns by the city and the people who live there. Huntington Place is the largest complex in the city, with more than 830 one-bedroom units.

“Something needs to be done,” said David Smyrek who has lived there for five years. “The violence and the danger and the lack of anyone listening, as far as management.”

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In 2018, there were 2,706 calls for service to Huntington Place. According to the police department, there were 529 crimes committed there in 2018.

“If you have this many apartments, you’re going to have problems,” said David Morrow, who moved in about a year ago. “I’ve been threatened when I go down to check my mail."

Both Morrow and Smyrek told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that safety improvements are needed. In separate interviews, they said the security doors do not work.

Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeffrey Lunde told us he is getting about three to four calls a week from residents. He said the majority of people causing problems don’t live at the complex.

The city, he said, pressured Dominium, the company that owns the complex, to get a new security firm.

“Our police were very blunt, the ones they had were quite frankly not getting it done,” said Lunde. 

Dominium has started a massive renovation project to address concerns.

According to the city, the company is spending about $8 million to add secure key fob access at entrances, improve lighting and fire detection systems and renovate the facilities. 

Now, the complex could change hands.

Lunde said Minneapolis nonprofit Aeon is considering purchasing the building from Dominium.

“I think soon we will have people who specialize in helping people, not in helping the bottom line,” he said.

Aeon specializes in affordable housing, which could also help another problem the complex faces: its high eviction rate.

About 21 evictions are filed every month, according to city documents.

“The clear majority is failure to pay,” said Lunde.

He said the Economic Development Authority heard a presentation from Aeon on Monday in a closed-door work session.

“They haven't finalized stuff — they're still doing their due diligence — but we are working to support that,” he said. “We're pretty excited about what the possibilities could hold.”

The city has about $5 million set aside for affordable housing projects. Lunde told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they may use some of that to help Aeon purchase the property.

He said the city will ensure the renovation project continues even if the sale goes through.

Resident David Morrow told us Aeon could be a good fit.

“Because it won’t be such a jack in rent, or they'll provide for senior citizens or a veteran like me, or I’d have access to some resources if I run into an issue,” Morrow said.

Neither Dominium or Aeon responded to our requests for comment on Tuesday.

Mayor Lunde also told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS a different plan to reduce evictions has been put on hold.

EDA was considering a proposal to give evicted tenants who couldn’t afford rent up to $1,000 to help them find new housing. It was on the Oct. 21 meeting agenda. 

According to Lunde, it was tabled over concerns the money would go to residents who are evicted for violations.

“Directing the money towards people who need the help? Who deserve the help? Versus people who may need the help but don’t deserve it,” he said. “I think the residents were very uneasy with helping people who, frankly, we want to leave.”

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Callan Gray

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