The new owner of Essex Village in Henrico County announced its broad intention to revitalize the aging housing complex along with creation of a tenants association.
SAA | EVI Development has purchased Essex Village Apartments. Ernst Valery, the president of SAA | EVI, said in a news release Wednesday that the company and the new property manager for the apartments, CAPREIT, have helped form a tenants association to be involved with “plans to update and restore Essex so that it will thrive for years to come.”
According to county records, LLC closed in October on Essex Village for $42.5 million. The entity is tied to Ernst Valery Investments Corp., a real estate investment firm based in Maryland.
In addition to the new owner, Essex Village has a new name. According to the leasing office, the apartment community has been rebranded as Maggie Lena Walker Apartments. There is no mention of the new name in the news release.
No specific changes for the apartment community or a timeline of when they might occur were announced. The new owner has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Henrico Manager John Vithoulkas said the county has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Housing and Urban Development for plans submitted by the new owner. He said he has traded emails with Valery asking for the plans.
“What we have now is some general statements that have been made,” said Vithoulkas, adding there’s no reason to doubt the new owner’s intentions. “We really need to see those plans and, when we have them, we will be in a better position to gauge the intentions of the new ownership group.”
Vithoulkas said adding gates and 24-hour security would be a good way to handle issues created by nonresidents. He said the tenants association is a great idea.
“The residents need to make sure their voices are heard,” Vithoulkas said. “Their voices have not been heard for too long.”
In the release, Valery said the company cannot wait to get work started on Essex and has been in talks with what residents want.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us but with the help of the new Tenant Association, we are confident that Essex will become a safe, clean and pleasant place to live,” Valery said in the release.
The revitalization plans come in the wake of months of scrutiny over conditions at the 496-unit subsidized-housing community that was built in 1982. Problems have included rodents, leaking water heaters and a faulty railing that a pregnant woman fell through.
The previous owners passed an August inspection by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but the federal agency demanded a number of corrective actions for such things as walls with holes and cracks, mold and mildew, and a roach infestation. According to a HUD spokeswoman, the new owner has agreed to address the issues.
Tuesday’s release quotes a member of the tenants association identified as “Ms. Lewis” saying she was excited to work with the new owners.
“It’s time for the residents of Essex to be heard, and we are glad the new owners of the property have been receptive to that,” Ms. Lewis says in the release. “We have already been in talks about how to revitalize Essex, and we share the same goal: to restore Essex so that it will remain a vibrant, important part of Henrico County for years to come.”