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Apartments gain face-lift

Gone are the overflowing trash bins, leaky ceilings and faulty fire alarms.

Also gone is the name Villa Del Mar at the apartment complex that changed ownership a month and a half ago.

Reborn as The View at Redondo apartments, the complex at 29401 Pacific Highway S., just north of the Dash Point Road intersection, has new exterior paint, new fencing and refurbished curbs and sidewalks.

It’s a new look and — hopefully — a new reputation will surface for the complex that was owned until September by legally troubled landlord Derek Lance Brown, said David Feldman, project manager for new owner, Pinnacle Realty Management Corporation.

Presently, about 25 of the complex’s 78 units are occupied as Pinnacle “turns” apartments to prep them for new tenants. Feldman said he expects more units to be filled soon.

In September, the City of Federal Way had notified Villa Del Mar residents they would have to vacate their homes by Oct. 8 unless Brown fixed a long list of code and safety violations at the complex. The city had cited Brown for five code violations in May, including failure to meet building construction standards due to general disrepair and dilapidation.

Some residents left, but others remained hoping the violations would be corrected in time. It was a gamble because they faced trespass charges if the violations weren’t fixed. Though not all improvements were completed by Oct. 8, the city building officials ultimately decided against citing any residents.

Now, building improvements are moving forward — and they’re getting a strong vote of confidence from city officials.

“They’re working with the special inspector that we hired,” Martin Nordby, city code compliance officer, said of Pinnacle.

“His inspection of the apartments was very thorough,” Nordby said. “I was really impressed.”

Compared with Brown’s ownership, Pinnacle has worked quickly to make needed upgrades, he added.

“We’ve been really pleased with their progress and their willingness to work with us. We want to have a good relationship,” Nordby said.

Brown and his properties had a history problems. Last summer, a municipal judge ordered Brown to live under house arrest for 20 days at the Alison Park apartments in Des Moines after 30 health and safety violations noted by Des Moines officials went without remedy.

More recently, the city of Federal Way went forward with criminal charges against Brown.

City prosecutor Veronica Alicea-Galvan said the city is charging Brown with four counts of violating city code and failure to comply with the Uniform Housing Code. He failed to appear at an arraignment hearing on Oct. 10., and there is a warrant out for his arrest until he pays the city $5,000 in fines, Alicea-Galvan said.

If found guilty of the Federal Way violations, Brown could face nearly a year in jail.

With new ownership, things are looking up at the old Villa Del Mar. Pinnacle is spending about $400,000 for improvements, including new carpets and fixtures in all units, as well as extensive aesthetic improvements outside the buildings, said Jon Harle, Pinnacle investment manager.

The interior of most apartments will get new paint, and a fence is being erected in the rear of the property which backs up to Redondo Way South.

“If you’re a resident, you don’t necessarily want to look at all that blackberry briar and all that mess down there,” Feldman said.

In front, two of the complex’s trash bins have been enclosed, eliminating any chance of old eyesores to re-emerging. Also, outside lighting has been improved, and nighttime security has been hired. Other improvements are brand-new washers and dryers for all units and shutters outside second- and third-story windows.

“There’s a lot of work to do still out here. We’re nowhere near done,” Feldman said.

But the improvements have been quick — and quickly noticed, said Monika S. Jackson, business manager for The View at Redondo.

Twelve-year resident Kim Scott said she is “very pleased” with the renovations.

Rents will increase slightly, Jackson said, but there are free-rent incentives for some new residents. One-bedroom units will rent for $595 to $650 per month; two bedrooms will go for $795 to $850.

Already, drivers and passers-by have complimented the new look.

“I hear from a lot residents that there used to be police here all the time,” said Jackson, who lives on-site. “There just tickled now.”

“It’s been a challenge,” she added, “but it’s been such a big reward.”

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