Saturday, February 22, 2003

Mold in apartments nearly cleaned up

Firm praised for handling of health problem

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - One of the largest apartment complexes in the Tristate is making progress in its battle with a potentially dangerous mold problem, Butler County health and building inspectors say.

In July the Enquirer first reported that the 492-unit Woodbridge on the Lake apartments in West Chester Township had toxic mold infestation that might have endangered some of the complex's more than 1,000 residents.

Since then, according to Butler County health and building officials, the owners - Blue Ash-based Metro Prop Realty Inc. - have been a model of cooperation and are making progress in removing potentially toxic mold from 14 apartment units.

"They had a hell of a problem out there at Woodbridge," said Butler County Building Inspector Paul Ivers, adding that the owners have aggressively tackled the often complicated, and potentially dangerous, process of cleaning up mold by totally replacing walls, wood framing and drywall after county inspections for safety.

"They are doing a good job," said Butler County Health Department Director Patricia Burg.

Metro Prop President Bruce Hellman said the mold, and other structural and plumbing problems in the complex, were largely inherited from the previous owner. His company has spent about $750,000 for mold remediation, repairs and renovations.

Metro Prop bought 36-year-old Woodbridge complex in spring 2002, and the company has not been charged with any building code violations. Hellman said the 14 apartments that are being cleaned for mold were all vacant.

He said his company expects to have the apartments redone by mid-March.

Woodbridge resident Lisa Davis said that she, and other residents, appreciate the efforts of Metro Prop.

"There were a lot of problems that lingered from the other owners but Metro Prop has been excellent. They have hired a lot more maintenance people, and they respond quickly," Davis said.


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