MEMPHIS, Tenn.– There was a lengthy hearing in Environmental Court Wednesday afternoon for the ongoing saga of the Peppertree Apartments in Whitehaven.
Much of Wednesday’s hearing focused on if fixes have been made to keep tenants safe and whether or not a permanent plan has been drawn up to make temporary fixes to stairwells and walkways permanent.
Back in August, two people were injured after a walkway collapsed at the complex. Shortly after, a fire broke out at the complex as well. It has also racked up hundreds of code violations and crime reports over the years.
The city argued Peppertree continues to kick the ball down the road with no cost estimates and they haven’t really created any kind of permanent plan.
“It’s something that the owner just wrote up! He just wrote up! It’s not to be taken seriously. It’s not signed by anybody, he didn’t run it by his engineer. He didn’t do anything,” said attorney Bruce McMullen.
However, attorneys for the complex say they are taking steps to rehab the property.
Peppertree brought in its contracted structural engineer to testify they are working to put a permanent plan in place, that inspections have been happening and that tenants are safe.
The engineer also said a permanent plan could take up to 6 months to be completed.
The property management president also testified that HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has to sign off on everything the complex does because they are in a notice of default.
The president of the management company overseeing Peppertree added they currently have two letters of intent from two different companies to transfer ownership of the property but they haven’t come to terms yet.
The judge questioned the intent to transfer ownership and how it relates to permanent plans to fix up the property.
“We’re moving in two different directions and I’m only concerned about one direction and that is the safety and making a determination if whether the whole place needs to be vacated,” said Judge Patrick Dandridge.
The case was reset for later this month. Another safety inspection by Peppertree’s structural engineer is set for later this week. Two families are also set to be relocated to other units by Thursday to ensure their safety.