Apartment complex changes name for fresh start

Merrick Place Apartments has changed its name and management, months after a February shooting in which Wayne Eggins almost died.

Mike Murphy thought Merrick Place Apartments was heaven when he moved in to the west Augusta complex three years ago.

Then it turned to hell, he said, with burglaries and other crime driving down the quality of life.

"It started to crash real bad," he said.

One resident fed up with crime after his home was broken into tried to stop a burglary in February. Wayne Eggins was nearly killed by a gunshot wound to the head for his efforts.

Times have changed at the complex on Skinner Mill Road, however, as has the name of the apartments.

"We felt like there was some opportunity to re-establish our position in the marketplace," said Deborah Millwood, the president of Wilkinson Real Estate Advisors, the Atlanta-based group that manages the newly named Millbrook Pointe Apartments. "I'm not sure it had a great reputation before."

Millwood said that reputation extended to the competency of management. That's been changed with new management and a focus on customer service, she said.

Millbrook Pointe is actually two adjoining properties with separate addresses. Crime records show that from June 2010 to last month, burglaries peaked at 3190 Skinner Mill Road in June 2010 with five.

There were only three vehicle break-ins during that period and no violent crimes or rapes. At 3188 Skinner Mill Road, the 16 burglaries in that time period are more spread out. There were also four vehicle break-ins and the aggravated assault that nearly killed Eggins.

Millwood doesn't deny the crime at Millbrook but said there will be crime in any neighborhood. Asked whether prospective tenants might miss the neighborhood's history because of the name change, Millwood said most apartment referral sites include "formerly known as" information.

From Murphy's perspective, that won't be much of a worry. The worst tenants have been evicted and deputies are constantly serving arrest warrants to remove the troublemakers, he said.

Murphy said the new name is a signal of a fresh start.

"It's getting a whole lot better," he said.