It wasn't so long ago that Riverwalk Flats, a trendy 96-unit apartment building in the North Loop with soaring ceilings and exposed brick interiors, was owned by and managed by Twin Cities companies.
Longtime residents say the community at 50 N. 4th Ave. in Minneapolis had heart. Cedar Management paid attention to local crime trends and kept residents abreast of significant incidents. Live-in caretakers kept the property free of trash and the sidewalks shoveled. It was more than a decent living for modest rent.
Then the owner, Minneapolis developer James Stanton, died. By mid-December, Riverwalk was sold to Seattle's Goodman Real Estate as part of a $19 million deal, and Dallas-based Pinnacle Management was brought in to oversee the day-to-day.
About a week before Christmas, all four caretakers were fired without notice. The resident property manager was asked to interview for the continuance of her job and to help smooth over the transition, but never heard back. In the days that followed, notices were wedged in tenants' doors declining all upcoming lease renewals to allow for renovations that could net a higher rent.
Maintenence was neglected, residents say, describing sidewalks that haven't been cleared since the sale, gutters bursting with ice, and litter scattered throughout the property. The maintenence equipment once used by the caretakers now sits unused in storage, they say.
"I know the North Loop is the hip new place and they are building like crazy but along with the gentrification is the flip-side of disregard for the people and place that has been," says a multi-year tenant who asked not to be named. "It rather breaks my heart."
For the four caretakers and the property manager, losing their jobs also means losing their homes.
Rachel Meyer, a former caretaker, says the news made for plenty of gloomy dinner conversations over the holiday. She suddenly worried how she would make the payments on a new car she'd bought, and later, when her washing machine started leaking water and flooding her floors, she was forced to wait a week for the new maintenence to respond before paying hundreds out-of-pocket to have it fixed.
Former property manager LeAnn Patterson says it especially grates her that she prepared an employee handbook and logs of all of Riverwalk's equipment and service vendors before she turned in her keys.
"It's been paralyzing for a lot of people," says Patterson, who hastily found another job in Ohio after nine years of living and working at Riverwalk. "I know other people who have been here longer than me, it's very disruptive to them. This is their home."
Neither Goodman Real Estate nor Pinnacle Management responded with comment by publication.
Goodman CEO George Petrie responded on January 9, saying that while he feels badly that Riverwalk employees were let go, he believes it should have been Cedar Management's responsibility to notify them of the sale and offer bonuses to cushion the transition.
He said he would look into current maintenence issues under Pinnacle's management.