MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Eden at Watersedge just pulled itself from the cliff's edge.
Shelby County Environmental Court Referee John Cameron acknowledged Wednesday that the apartment complex, which is located at 2774 S. Mendenhall Road in Fox Meadows, is in compliance. A Memphis code enforcement supervisor testified the complex's maintenance crews and contractors had repaired all 80 units with faulty air conditioners. Some had been without cooling for weeks or months.
"Today, we are happy to announce that all of the complaints that have been given to us have been repaired," said Memphis City Code Enforcement Supervisor Anthony Muhammad.
"I'm impressed with that," said Cameron. "I just want to see it stay that way."
The apartment complex's attorney, Bruce Feldbaum, told Cameron its management had drafted a preventative maintenance plan to address future air conditioning, electrical, plumbing, and sewage complaints, per Shelby County Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter's ultimatum issued August 2.
However, Feldbaum asked to court to seal the document, essentially keeping the tenants from seeing it.
"It's the proprietary property of my clients," Feldbaum said. "The tenants can come in and talk to anybody they want in the office to ask questions about what needs to be done or what will be done. This is our internal document as to what they schedule and how they will do it."
Eden at Watersedge tenant Minnie Robinson attended Wednesday's court hearing. She showed us smart phone pictures and video of her apartment, flooded with water she said was flowing from a neighbor's apartment. She said she complained for three weeks, until the complex's maintenance staff finally fixed it two days ago after she gave her 30-day notice to vacate.
"It's time for me to move," Robinson said.
Tenant Antwaun Williams said he is still homeless after an electrical fire in his unit July 26 destroyed nearly everything he owned, four hours after Eden at Watersedge's crews repaired his air conditioning. Memphis fire officials confirmed a faulty electrical outlet caused the fire.
Williams said the apartment's management offered him another apartment, one month's rent and less than $2,500, but he hasn't accepted the offer.
"I lost my apartment, plus my pride, my stability. I lost everything," Williams said.
The apartment's management will not comment on Williams' case.
According to Judge Potter's ultimatum, both Memphis code enforcement and Shelby County code enforcement must sign off on the preventative maintenance plan. Cameron said he wanted to take "a solid month" to review the plan and see how the complex handles incoming tenant complaints, which at one point numbered 15 to 20 a day, according to Muhammad. He ordered the parties to return to court Sept. 13.
In addition to remaining on the front-burners of Memphis code enforcement and Shelby County Environmental Court, Eden at Watersedge has been in trouble with the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South. The bureau gives the apartment complex an F rating for 44 complaints regarding maintenance and neglect of its properties and tenants.
"Toilets overflowing, mold and mildew, air conditioning not working," said bureau President Randy Hutchinson. "We've even asked them to address what we thought was a pattern of complaints, and they didn't do that."
The WMC Action News 5 Investigators have been unable to locate a phone number or email contact for the apartment complex's owner, New Life Core Willow Lake LLC of Bloomington, Minnesota. According to Shelby County property assessor records, the owner is enrolled in the Memphis Health, Educational and Housing Facility Board's PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) program. It's a financial incentive program that allows qualifying property companies to obtain a low-cost lease, then title the property in the board's name. Board staff confirmed it is investigating the property owner to see if its maintenance failures may have violated its PILOT lease.
"Our Executive Director, Martin Edwards, personally walked the property with the owner's regional maintenance supervisor and was encouraged by the sustained efforts to provide safe and sanitary housing to the residents," said board spokeswoman Lauren Magallanes. "We are expecting a report from management on all current property findings, including air conditioning replacement and repair, as well as continuing communications with code enforcement."