HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Essex Village - an apartment complex once called "the worst of the worst" by a Henrico official - has been sold for $42.5 million.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the sale of the Henrico apartment complex to Maggie Lena Walker Apartments LLC on Oct. 31, according to court documents. Ernst Valery is listed as the owner.
County leaders say they learned of the purchase during a meeting with representatives from HUD.
In a letter to the Board of Supervisors, County Manager John A. Vithoulkas says HUD is aware of the purchase, but did not notify the county.
"HUD has already approved the transfer of the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program contract to Mr. Valery, even though Mr. Valery has not yet finalized the financing with (HUD)," he wrote.
Essex Village is Henrico County's largest subsidized housing complex. For the past year, NBC12 and county leaders have called out Essex Village for its "deplorable living conditions" and poor management by the company, PK Management.
That includes pest infestations, broken railings and balconies, and pipe leaks. The former owners, Essex VA Investors LLC, were charged criminally for building code violations. Those violations were thrown out when the management company fixed the numerous issues.
After pressure from county leaders and numerous stories by NBC12, PK Management said several million dollars went into making repairs, replacing carpets, fixing siding and cleaning up the property.
Henrico County leaders have expressed frustration with Valery. Back in October, it was reported he wanted to increase the rent significantly. Renters wouldn't pay more out of pocket, because it would be subsidized by taxpayers. Valery took issue with the media focusing on the increase for tax payers.
"We are okay with taxpayers paying for a football stadium and racetracks but not for quality affordable housing?" he said. Valery says the money would go towards much needed renovations at the complex.
"The working folks at Essex pay taxes also, and there are millions of Americans who would agree that it's a better use of our dollars than stadiums and arenas," Valery said. "You know that housing affordability is a major issue for the working class and I can't think of a better way to support society and community than to provide the working class folks with a real benefit."
Valery says he has also met with county officials about his plans.
Essex is no longer being managed by PK Management. Valery says a company called Capreit has taken over managing the property.
U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin also weighed in on the Essex Village sale on Wednesday.
"After months of my continued inquiries and pressure, I am pleased that PK Management has sold Essex Village, where, under their poor management, residents lived in unsafe and unsanitary conditions for far too long. Everyone deserves to live in a clean, sanitary, and safe home," he said in a statement.
He says P.K. Management "failed to meets its basic responsibilities - and that failure has hurt residents. ... With new ownership, residents will finally have the opportunity to get the clean, livable and safe housing they deserve."
HENRICO COUNTY DOCUMENTS ON THE SALE:
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