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Official in Bel-Ridge weighs mountain of complaints at Springwood Apartments

Official in Bel-Ridge weighs mountain of complaints at Springwood Apartments

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BEL-RIDGE — Several Springwood Apartments residents expressed frustration Monday night at a hearing held at City Hall, saying they were tired of being in limbo over what will become of the complex.

The 271-unit complex near Natural Bridge Road and Interstate 170 has received numerous citations for unsafe living conditions and building code violations. Since summer, many units have been condemned. There was a sense Monday among the crowd of 30 people that Bel-Ridge officials might close the entire complex.

“Some of us don’t have $1,000 to move and don’t have nowhere to move to,” Pamela Perkins Brown, a Springwood resident of five years, said. “Tell us something, because I don’t like being homeless. I don’t want to have to sell all my stuff or take it away because I don’t have anywhere else to put it.”

Cary Hernden, director of public works in Bel-Ridge, led the hearing. He told residents it would take 10 days to determine, partly on their testimony, whether the complex should be closed.

But his role at the hearing caused confusion because the Bel-Ridge city attorney and an attorney representing the owner of the complex addressed Hernden as “your honor” at times, and the attorneys questioned residents who spoke.

“This is a joke,” St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby, D-1st District, said. “The citizens have comments and concerns, and you set it up in this manner to hear what they have to say?”

Darrell Wade, who has lived at Springwood eight years, said there has been a noticeable difference in customer service in the past two years.

“They used to be Johnny on the spot,” he said. “Within the last six months, I’ve been living in an apartment without heat and trying to heat our apartment with an electric stove.”

He added: “With all that I have paid into this place, it seems like I am getting a raw deal. And it seems like the raw deal is coming from the city of Bel-Ridge and the owner of this property.”

Springwood was the first of 12 low-income apartment complexes that T.E.H. Realty affiliates have purchased in the St. Louis region since late 2014. The firm has 2,800 units, including complexes in Ferguson, north St. Louis County and St. Louis.

Last week, a co-founder of the company said in an interview that T.E.H. was willing to invest money in Springwood with the right marching orders from Bel-Ridge officials.

Bel-Ridge officials have said they want to close the complex.

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