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Problem-plagued apartments placed in receivership

A series of improvements must be made to the Rising Phoenix apartment complex in Southeast Albuquerque by Aug. 17 under a modified nuisance abatement agreement with the city. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Except for the absence of repairs and improvements, things have changed quickly at Albuquerque’s Rising Phoenix apartments.

The problem-plagued complex in the Southeast Heights has been placed in receivership after the owner, Mihail Koulakis of Texas and his MKJS Investments I and II, relinquished control.

Kathleen Danuser of the international company Greystar Real Estate Partners, which has an office in Albuquerque, was appointed as the receiver of the property by 2nd Judicial District Court Judge Erin B. O’Connell. The order appointing Danuser was filed July 27.

Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association, which is listed on the court filing as the plaintiff, will provide $2 million to Greystar to secure the property and make all necessary repairs and improvements to bring it into compliance, said assistant city attorney Andrew Coon.

According to the receivership order, Danuser will serve as the receiver until the court enters another order terminating or discharging her. She will be paid $1,000 a month, plus reimbursement for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses. The receiver is also authorized to eventually sell the property on behalf of the owner, subject to court approval.

Coon, who is also a member of the city’s Abandoned and Dilapidated Abatement Property Team, or ADAPT, said Greystar will send weekly progress reports on property repairs and improvements to ADAPT.

It was just last week that the property owner agreed to modified terms of a nuisance abatement agreement that required a number of repairs, improvements and safety measures be completed before Aug. 17. Failure to have met that deadline would have resulted in the city taking the landlord to court, according to City Council President Pat Davis, in whose district the Rising Phoenix apartments are located.

It was Davis who asked the City Attorney’s Office to fast track legal remedies after he visited the complex on July 9 and saw that the apartment owner “had done absolutely nothing” toward fixing problems by target dates set out in a nuisance abatement agreement the owner had previously signed.

Among the violations described in the nuisance abatement agreement were exposed wiring and other electrical problems, broken windows and doors, bathrooms and kitchens without hot water, missing or nonworking fire extinguishers, and vacant apartments that had been occupied by trespassers engaged in “criminal activity.” According to the nuisance abatement agreement, between September 2018 and September 2019, Albuquerque police officers responded to complaints at the apartment complex that included aggravated assault, aggravated battery, arson, auto burglary, auto theft, breaking and entering, robbery, robbery with a deadly weapon, criminal damage to property, criminal trespass, larceny and various drug-related offenses.

In addition, the inspection conducted by members of several city departments in October 2019, also found an accumulation of discarded items outside some buildings, including trash, old mattresses, weeds and syringes.

It is unclear how many people are living in the complex or how many of the units are Section 8 or otherwise subsidized.

The online website, apartments.com, says the complex was built in 1975 and has 511 units in its two-story buildings, which are spread out over six addresses on the property located off Louisiana SE, just north of the New Mexico Veterans Memorial.

An attorney representing the owner previously told the Journal that many of the issues existed when his client bought the sprawling complex in 2018 as a “distressed” property.

Some of those problems, he said, were a result of homeless people who congregate at nearby Phil Chacon Park entering the complex and breaking into and vandalizing vacant apartments.

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