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Phoenix labels apartment complex a 'slum property'

PHOENIX -- Along 19th Avenue, just south of Glendale Avenue, the Woodbridge Apartments touts itself as "home of the loft," but Phoenix code inspectors call it a "slum property."

The designation comes a year after crews served a search warrant on the two-story complex. At that time, residents told KTAR they battled rats and pests and went without air conditioning for weeks at a time. Inspectors said they found unsafe balconies and stairways, exposed walls and green pools.

Code Compliance Supervisor Patrick Ravenstein said they found 97 violations for inadequate air conditioning, but the property owner, Los-Angeles-based HK Realty, fought them, mostly because current city code does not require a temperature range.

"The property owner's going to argue the unit is working because there's air blowing, but the unit is still super hot inside, sometimes 93, 95 degrees 97 degrees."

Ravenstein said they want to modify code to require a temperature no lower than 70 and no higher than 90 degrees.

Ravenstein said a judge has sided with the city and HK Realty is scheduled to be sentenced this month. Because it's a civil case, the sentencing will likely involve fines. The city also has a criminal case against HK Realty involving more than 300 counts.

Ravenstein said HK Realty is appealing the city's designation as a slum property before a civil appeals board. If the board allows the designation to remain, Ravenstein said city crews can inspect the property at any time (currently, they need a search warrant) and bill the owner's for the work.

Inspectors, lawyers and police have spent hundreds of hours investigating and documenting the cases against Woodbridge and HK Realty.

"Anytime that we're doing these type of large investigations then [there's] a lot of other complaints or concerns from other neighborhood residents we're not looking into," said Ravenstein.

We were unable to find a working number for Woodbridge management and calls to HK Realty were not returned.

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