JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4JAX I-TEAM has reported on issues at a troubled Eastside apartment complex for more than a decade, and on Thursday, the city of Jacksonville declared it a public nuisance.
Now, the Downtown East Apartments, which were once known as the Franklin Arms Apartments, are being told to make changes.
Since the I-TEAM began covering issues at the apartment complex in 2011, Ravi Katta has purchased it and things haven’t improved much. Problems have included things like crime as well as mold and insects.
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Katta traveled to Jacksonville from Texas to defend his management of the complex in front of the city’s public nuisance board.
“The city’s trying to establish that I’m not doing enough, but I need to establish that I am doing enough. So that only will come by asking the right questions,” Katta told the board.
“Do you believe that we have a security system that is helping in some of these cases?” Katta turned and asked a city employee.
“It’s certainly better than nothing, but it could be better,” said the city employee.
And it has to get a lot better as the board ruled that Katta needs to make several improvements to keep the complex from being shutdown. A big sticking point: The amount of violent crimes on the property in recent months.
“Those seven crimes that the city has alleged as a nuisance occurred on your property,” said a city attorney.
“Again, those are already recorded so I cannot deny, but my question is there are so many properties that have many crimes in a six-month period,” Katta said.
“We’re not here to talk about other properties,” the attorney responded.
Some of those changes include:
- Fencing around the complex
- Installing cameras running around the clock that store video for 30 days
- Making sure anyone who stays there is on a lease
- Working very closely with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office
The owner expressed multiple times that he’s concerned about the cost of all these changes, saying he’s already poured a lot of money into the complex.
The board has a lot of things they want changed, but it’s working on a list of immediate priorities that need to be changed within 30 days like fencing and lighting.