Town to remain watchful as management company starts addressing concerns at Hickory Ridge
MERRILLVILLE — The Friedman Management Company has taken initial steps to address safety and health issues at the Hickory Ridge Lake Apartments, and Town officials will stay vigilant throughout the entire process to ensure compliance.
The Merrillville Fire Department on June 14 issued a report to the Friedman Management Company, the operator of Hickory Ridge, which listed a variety of compliance issues. Structural concerns, the appearance of mold, electrical hazards, inaccessible fire extinguishers, missing or inoperable smoke detectors, inoperable fire alarms, and a large accumulation of trash in buildings were among the issues listed in the report.
Town officials have been in regular contact with Chuck Delaney, the Executive Managing Director of Administration & Operations at Friedman, and he issued an update on Friday.
Delaney indicated there is a potential buyer of Hickory Ridge, and some of the major issues at the complex could be handled by the possible new owner.
Although a sale is in the works, Friedman is making efforts to address compliance issues. That includes placing a temporary fence around 5630 Hayes Street and 5640 Hayes Street, which house the units that were evacuated earlier this month after Merrillville Fire Marshal Robert Pillman observed bowed-out exterior brick walls there. Friedman has received pricing to address walls on the evacuated buildings, and the company is working to hire an engineering firm to examine all buildings in Hickory Ridge for their structural integrity.
Delaney indicated there are 150 vacant apartments at Hickory Ridge, and the company has assessed about 120 units so far for potential mold. Of the units inspected, 25 of them require mold remediation, according to Delaney.
The property management company has also engaged Genesis Electrical to assess and repair the electrical hazards. Friedman is also working with Allegiant Fire Protection and Koorsen Fire and Security to handle the fire safety issues found throughout the complex.
Delaney indicated Friedman’s on-site staff and a landscaping company have been collecting the trash that’s accumulated throughout the Hickory Ridge property.
As Friedman has taken some steps to address Hickory Ridge, Pillman said he and other Town staff are regularly monitoring the compliance issues there.
“Almost every day, there’s some type of update, whether it’s a contractor, the potential new owner, executives of the management company that’s currently there,” Pillman said. “I have my finger on the pulse of all of that.”
He said Merrillville instructed Friedman to obtain building permits from the Town before work is done, and that’s a key step so Merrillville can monitor progress there.
“As soon as they get permits on construction, demolition, and all that stuff, our team of inspectors can make sure to get eyes on it and make sure all that is done properly and safely,” Pillman said.
Pillman said he’s also been in contact with the potential new owner of Hickory Ridge, and the group is well aware of the health and safety issues at the complex.
“They’re very prepared for the challenges ahead,” Pillman said.
He said the potential new ownership group has experience upgrading apartments that haven’t been properly maintained.
“They buy properties that are in disarray, and they turn them into better places,” Pillman said.
Pillman plans to meet with the Hickory Ridge community to update them on the status of the building conditions and the potential sale when more information becomes available.
He urged Hickory Ridge residents to contact him if they observe additional safety concerns at the property and if they notice vacant apartments haven’t been properly secured.
Pillman can be reached at email@example.com and by calling (219) 742-0107.