FERGUSON — T.E.H. Reality, on a buying spree of low-income housing apartment complexes despite mounting complaints from existing residents, has said the firm has plenty of money to go around and a plan to make improvements.
“We are in the middle of making it happen,” Eliram Rabin, co-founder of T.E.H. Realty, told the Post-Dispatch in late March.
He spoke then during a meeting at Park Ridge Apartments, a 336-unit spread that was refurbished in the past 15 years with the help of about $15 million in low-income housing tax credits. But after a year of owning Park Ridge, one of 12 complexes the firm purchased in the region since late 2014, T.E.H. Realty lost the property.
Meramec Enterprise Holdings II LLC recently purchased the property at a foreclosure sale.
“The owners of this project were not meeting their financial obligations, but more importantly were not meeting their obligations to the tenants for a safe and healthy living space,” Lynn Ziegelmeier, a spokeswoman for Meramec said Friday by email. “The bank has foreclosed and now Meramec Enterprise Holdings II LLC will begin the important work of improving these apartments for the people who live there now and future tenants.”
In October, Ferguson authorities told residents of one Park Ridge building to evacuate in 24 hours because a block of concrete had fallen from a second-story walkway. Other substandard living conditions and building code violations were reported.
T.E.H. Realty has said it was making improvements. But in June, following inspections, the Housing Authority of St. Louis County said it would not allow new subsidized housing vouchers to be used at Park Ridge and four other properties owned by T.E.H. Realty, one of the largest providers of affordable housing in the region.
Meramec Enterprise Holdings II LLC is an affiliate of Sugar Creek Capital, which has offices in Webster Groves and Atlanta. Sugar Creek founder Joseph Shepard, husband of Claire McCaskill, the former Democratic senator from Missouri, is a known player in low-income housing tax credit projects.
“After seeing families in inner cities and rural communities struggling with the most basic needs — particularly finding safe, affordable housing — I felt I had to use the skills I had developed in business to make a difference for those without the means to do so for themselves,” he said in a company profile.
Sansone Group took over management of Park Ridge Apartments on Wednesday. Antoinette Perry-Jones, a former St. Louis-based inspector for the Missouri Housing Development Commission, is managing the complex for Sansone.
Contacted on Friday, she forwarded questions to Sugar Creek. A letter written by her that was posted on the front door of the leasing office said the philosophy of Sansone Group “encompasses strong customer satisfaction, attention to detail and fairness in all business dealings.”
T.E.H. Realty owners and their immediate contact person didn’t respond to requests for comment Friday.
Janet Carthen, the former T.E.H. Realty manager of Park Ridge, said the change was abrupt and that she didn’t know what caused it. She said bills were supposed to be paid by the accounts payable department in Kansas City.
She and her team of workers were reassigned to Bridgeport Crossing Apartments, 4015 Brittany Circle, a 300-unit spread in Bridgeton, on Thursday. Police were summoned to the leasing office Friday morning because somebody broke the front and back doors and tore out a rent drop box. The office sits across the hall from the former leasing office, which was torched in September by a Molotov cocktail.
Bridgeton police said there have not been arrests in either case.
“I am just in awe right now,” Carthen said. “I am just seeing what’s next.”
Post-Dispatch reporter Jacob Barker contributed to this report.