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COLUMBUS, Ga. — Local officials of both the Columbus Consolidated Government and the United States Congress lauded the reopening of Ralston Towers after the building’s disgustingly-troubled past.
The newly-renovated building is now under entirely new ownership after years of governmental neglect allowed the previous owner’s mismanagement to leave one man dead.
At a ceremony held on August 30, 2023, a band of elected officials praised their work to renovate the subsidized housing apartment complex. Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson, Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02), and Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA-03) ironically praised each other for fixing a problem created by government bureaucracy.
For years upon years, the building was owned and managed by an out-of-state firm located in New Jersey that refused to maintain the Section 8 property. The building lacked basic plumbing & water, heat & air conditioning, and structurally-sound conditions. The apartment building was quite literally falling apart and uninhabitable by even the most depraved standards of humane living conditions.
With full knowledge of the abhorrent conditions, local officials failed to find and implement a solution and allowed the problem to continue. Though pleas were made to the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), an entire congressional district’s-worth of elected officials were — by their own admission — somehow unable to find a way to fund interim housing for 200 of their own residents so the building could be condemned before someone actually died.
No local developers stepped up to the plate to commit to solving the problem, either.
As a result, residents were forced to live in neglectfully-decrepit conditions, despite it being absolutely 110% against the law for it to occur. Then it killed someone.
In 2017, the building’s inhumane and illegal conditions left 62-year-old resident Charles Hart dead of a heat-related injury. A wrongful death lawsuit awarded his family a $125 million settlement.
We wonder why none — not one — of the city’s own local aMaZiNg developers cared to scoop up this project themselves before it left a man to die.
We wonder what prevented them from frankly giving a sh*t enough to actually do something for their own community while they sat around praising how aMaZiNg they themselves are.
We wonder why the Tomlinson administration spent two terms plotting the emotionally-based plans for our city’s future — which have all measurably failed, by the way — without bothering to take care of the giant purple elephant in the city’s Uptown district that was literally killing people.
Did it not fit their hypocritical virtue- signaling yet action-lacking agendas?
Take a good, hard look at that. You be the judge — but a government does not get a commendation for doing the absolute bare minimum required to sustain life in the very part of town it claims is “thriving from economic development and tourism” — and especially not after ignoring those governmentally-caused third-world conditions for decades.
Pardon our French, but: unf*ck yourselves.
The new owner of the complex, Infinity Real Estate Advisors, is not a local Columbus developer, but rather one based in Atlanta.
Two years ago, the CIO & Partner of the Atlanta-based firm, Greg Jones, made the following statement to Columbusites:
“This will be returned as a(n) affordable apartment complex. There will be 45 market units, but the rest (of the 136 expected units) will be Project-Based Section 8. What we’re going to do different(ly) from the past is we’re going to bring things that the residents have not had before. There are 61,000 square feet of community area in the Ralston Towers. Never tapped. We as a company are going to bring amenities to these residents that they have not enjoyed prior. We’re going to bring a library; a business center with computers; we’re going to bring arts and crafts; we’re going to bring a lounge area. Just, amenities that didn’t exist prior to our ownership. But more than that, we’re bringing a service coordinator — our staff — to help these residents not only bring activities into Ralston Towers and utilizing the space, but also bring our residents outside into the community. And that’s what we do. And that’s what we’ll do over the next couple years as we rehab and turn Ralston Towers into something that looks very similar, but inside will be very different.”
We at the Muckraker are thankful for Infinity Real Estate’s dedication of tens of millions of dollars of investment to fix a problem that our own city’s bourgeoisie didn’t care enough to fix themselves.
Perhaps a little outside perspective is precisely what this city of ours needs, since it damn sure can’t seem to do it themselves — despite their self-proclaimed, hypocritically-aMaZiNg, and competently-lacking intentions.
Facts are stubborn things — and we’ll keep publishing them, whether city officials and the hoi polloi like them or not.
© 2023 Muscogee Muckraker. All rights reserved.
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