Over the past year, Champaign Park Apartments had so many serious inspection issues that led to the condemnation of 393 units and an unknown, larger number of tenants that had to be moved into hotels temporarily.
But the apartment complex, located at 201 S Country Fair Drive and parts of White Street, received the most complaints in the past two years — 170 records with many complaining about having no heat or hot water. A portion of the complaints were made under the previous ownership, which changed in February last year.
CU-CitizenAccess reviewed over two years worth of property complaints kept by Champaign from January 1, 2021 to February 13, 2023, which were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. The 1,307 housing complaints included significant issues such as no heating, plumbing malfunctions, water leaks, mold and no running water, along a multitude of various other problems tenants encountered.
Complaints increased 30% from 2021 to 2022, going from 520 to 679.
Green Street Realty received the second highest number of complaints, according to city records, with 48 filed to the city. The complaints included water leaks, absence of heat and fire safety issues at various locations.
The realty company is owned by Chris Saunders and their main offices are located at 411 West University Avenue in Champaign according to the Secretary of State website. Green Street Realty and its associated companies have become one of the biggest landlords in Champaign.
Champaign Code Compliance Manager Tim Spear said Green Street Realty is generally responsive when the city informs them of maintenance issues.
Countrybrook Affordable properties received the third-highest number of complaints, with at least 40 formal complaints filed. These complaints include animal intrusion, plumbing backup, water leaks, ceiling damages, bed bugs and air conditioning malfunctions.
Countrybrook Affordable LLC is based out of Maryland, with its head office based as well. Property records show the LLC bought out the previous owners of the property at 2548 W Springfield Avenue in 2020. Most of their complaints came from their buildings located along West Springfield Avenue.
Among the other landlords with a high number of complaints were MGDG Washington LLC with 23 complaints, Mattis IL LLC with 16 and UIUC Student SLM with 15.
Court case ongoing between city and condemned apartments owners
Champaign Park Apartments has been frequently in the news over the past eight months.
Spear said the apartments were condemned by the city beginning in November 2022 because they had no heating, a requirement for tenants in Champaign. They soon reopened, but were shut back down in late December and early January.
Currently, about 80% of the 393 units remain condemned for occupancy as of mid-June, Spear said.
The displacement of so many residents to hotels and other accommodations has cost the city just under $250,000 — and it intends to pursue the full amount in its ongoing court case. Spear said about $167,000 has been repaid to the city so far.
“We weren’t in contact with every tenant despite our best efforts,” Spear said. “The approximate number of households affected was 150-165. The number of tenants was higher than this, but we don’t have information on how many tenants were in each unit.”
County property tax records for the apartments link back to the address 201 S Country Fair Drive, which was owned by Champaign Park Apartments, LLC until it was sold in February last year. This April, the LLC was terminated according to the Secretary of State website. It was previously managed by Adam Glickman of AMG Realty Group based in Skokie, about 148 miles away from Champaign.
The new owner, Champaign Apartments Owner, LLC, is not based in the state. It’s owned by Michael Chetrit of the Chetrit Group and Chetrit Ventures and has a listed address on the Secretary of State website of 512 Seventh Avenue in New York City, about 836 miles away from Champaign.ChampaignApartmentsOwner_LLCSearch_06.21.23
The Chetrit Group is known for real estate ventures around the country, and had a recent project in Miami, Florida.
According to Mick Woolf of the C-U Tenant Union, the city has had to take the previous owners of the Champaign Park apartments to court twice.
“You had a variety of things that went on there in terms of building code violations and condemnations… whether it be heat or water or just the premises,” Woolf said.