A New Jersey real estate company has bought crime-plagued River Glen Apartments and plans to upgrade security at the east Augusta complex.
The Aspen Cos. announced Tuesday that it purchased the 192-unit complex at 201 E. Telfair St. as part of a larger deal that involved Department of Housing and Urban Development communities in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina.
River Glen has been the site of five homicides since 2009. According to crime statistics, there were more than 120 incidents of gunshots heard from 2010 to 2012.
“It is a concern,” Adam Mermelstein, the managing partner of the Teaneck, N.J.-based firm, said about River Glen’s crime problem. “After speaking with local officials as well as the housing authority, it seems like it has gotten better. I would say on a better path.”
He said the plan is to have security guards on site and have meetings with the tenants to “make everybody aware that we are new management and we are going to provide them with the tool of effective security in order to cut down on the crime.”
Mermelstein said the company has been successful at its other properties in cutting down crime and increasing respect and awareness. Aspen owns four complexes in New Jersey and one in Pennsylvania.
The company said it plans “vast upgrades” to the property, including roofing, common area hallways, landscaping, new playground equipment and interior apartment renovations.
River Glen was the focus of a city code enforcement issue in June; about 250 health and safety code violations were cited. Inspectors reported a lack of smoke detectors, broken windows, water leaks, and damaged floors, ceilings and walls.
Aspen closed the deal in mid-September. It involved a portfolio of more than 700 apartments in cities such as Memphis, Greenville, S.C., and Gainesville, Fla., from several owners.
The last time River Glen changed hands was in 2005, when it was sold for $4.1 million, according to Richmond County property records.
The company said it turned its attention to Southern markets as part of an aggressive expansion program to add a large number of “high-performing and well-located” Section 8 apartments to its portfolio of rental homes.
Mermelstein said the renovations of the management office, community room and laundry should start this month. Aspen will go unit by unit in determining whether renovations are needed in the apartments. He said the project should take a year to complete.