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Columbus city attorney files public nuisance lawsuit against south Franklinton apartment complex

Matthew Rand
Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein's office has filed a public nuisance lawsuit over what he says are "dangerous, unsanitary living conditions" at Southpark Apartments in South Franklinton.

A troubled apartment complex in Columbus' south Franklinton neighborhood is being sued by the city attorney's office over what it said are dangerous and unsanitary living conditions.

The 356-unit Southpark Apartments is among the largest affordable housing developments in Columbus.

According to court documents, Columbus Police received more than 800 calls for service to the property between Aug. 1, 2021 and July 21, 2022, including "179 disturbances, 49 stolen vehicles, 51 domestic violence incidents, 24 shots fired, 9 stabbings, 7 overdoses and other criminal activity."

An inspection last year found some 200 code violations ranging from roaches and rodents to missing smoke detectors, broken walls and windows and exposed wiring.

"These are the type of things where the families were experiencing on a daily basis. They were not getting fixed, there was no meaningful effort for them to get fixed," Klein said.

"Part of this court case is making sure that we have court supervision to fix those things so that it is safe, it is a healthy and clean place for families to raise their children," he said.

Klein said his office has seen progress after intervening at other troubled properties, including Colonial Village and Nelson Park apartments on the city's east side.

"Families are doing a lot better. They're they're thriving. They have economic opportunity. It's safer. And so we're hopeful that model will now be able to be used at Southpark and other large apartment complexes around Columbus," Klein said.

Klein's office has asked the court to order Southpark's management to present a plan to improve conditions for residents.

Property owners could not be reached for comment.

Matthew Rand is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides with Ann Fisher.