Five days after announcing a deal with Citizens Energy Group to restore water service to tenants at two south-side Indianapolis apartment complexes, city officials said they’re planning to recoup the $650,000-plus bill, but a lack of communication with the properties’ owners could complicate matters.
Citizens disconnected water service to Berkley Commons and Capital Place Apartments last Thursday over unpaid bills, which Deputy Corporation Counsel Matt Giffin said this Wednesday totaled $1.3 million. The 544-unit Berkley Commons, built in 1964, is at 8201 Madison Ave., while the 324-unit Capital Place, built in 1969, is at 4100 Continental Court.
Mayor Joe Hogsett announced the city had reached a deal with Citizens to restore service in a statement late last Friday. At a regularly held news conference Wednesday, Giffin said the city paid more than half of the total bill upfront as part of the deal and was working on finalizing the terms—including language about recovering the money, and assurances the complexes would pay their own future bills.
“What we want to make clear, and what Citizens wants to make clear, is that this is not forgiven on the part of the landlord,” Giffin said. “This is not dead; it’s [not] going to go away. The city or Citizens is going to do everything we can to recover this amount that’s owed.”
But that’s easier said than done when the city hasn’t had direct contact with the owners.
Property records list the owners as Berkley Commons IN LLC and the Foundation for Affordable, Rental Housing Inc. But they’re linked to the same ownership group that’s behind the trouble-plagued Lakeside Pointe and Fox Club apartment complexes, officials say—the group just owns each property under different limited liability companies.
Giffin and mayor’s office spokesman Mark Bode said the city has been in touch with the ownership group regarding a Lakeside Pointe-specific lawsuit threat and potential ownership switch, but communication for Berkley Commons and Capital Place has been limited to Citizens.
Giffin said the city would try to avoid “setting a precedent that this is a bailout option for every landlord that’s failing to pay its bills” by quickly and “aggressively” moving to recover the payment. Later in the conference, he declined to give further details when asked if the city would pursue action beyond that.
Hogsett said he and Citizens President and CEO Jeffrey Harrison had spoken Friday and come to an “informal understanding that he and I will work together” to avoid similar situations “whenever they arise.”
The deal is expected to be finalized this week, according to Bode.