As city officials consider whether to grant financial incentives to a developer some people have labeled a slumlord, The World-Herald has gotten a closer look at the condition of some of his properties.
Images obtained by the newspaper from inside a Dave Paladino-owned apartment complex on Northwest Radial near 52nd Street show mold, leaks, bugs and a dead rodent.
Paladino, who also owns Dino’s Storage locations around the city, is seeking $285,000 in tax-increment financing to help renovate an unrelated project: the Ainsworth and Beverly Apartments, two historic buildings near downtown.
But questions about the conditions inside his existing rental properties surfaced at City Hall last month and now the incentives could be in question.
Last week, the City Council decided to delay a vote on Paladino’s request for city incentives. The aim: Give him a couple of months to clean up the problems inside some of his existing units.
Paladino, in an interview, admits that there are problems in some of his units. He said he’s making progress in fixing them. He’s meeting with the city’s housing inspection staff weekly, he said, better training his workers that deal with maintenance and rehabbing the handful of units with formal complaints.
He said many of the problems could be solved by having better communication with his staffers. In some instances, he said, his staff “should’ve reacted differently.”
Paladino said he was surprised that the council didn’t vote to deny his request for the city incentive, known as tax-increment financing. And he acknowledged that Council President Ben Gray, who had toured the Northwest Radial complex and lambasted Paladino publicly about the filth he encountered, “had a valid point.”
“We’re just trying to do a better job,” Paladino said this week. He said he owns about 1,000 apartment units around the city and manages more. Along with the real estate and development business, Paladino’s Dino’s Storage businesses are known for posting Bible verses and other Bible-inspired messages on lighted signs on the storage unit complexes.
Gray said he thought some of Paladino’s existing apartment properties were beyond repair. He urged the council not to “reward” Paladino by granting him a tax incentive for a new venture.
“The roaches didn’t budge,” Gray said of the units he visited. “There were colonies and colonies and colonies of them. I’m not convinced he can get this fixed.”
Originally, the city’s Law Department said the council couldn’t take into consideration a TIF applicant’s track record as a landlord. But later, the department clarified that an applicant’s history was fair game.
Still, Council Vice President Chris Jerram suggested that the council put off a vote for a bit, arguing that it was better to keep Paladino under the city’s watch while he made repairs.
He and some other council members expressed interest in encouraging developers to restore historic buildings in the city’s urban core.
Scott Lane, the city’s chief housing inspector, said Paladino has been updating him weekly on the work that has been accomplished inside the units with problems like plumbing malfunctions and other unsanitary conditions.
Lane said that he hasn’t received formal complaints about additional Paladino properties that but more could be coming.
“I anticipate we’re going to stay very, very busy,” he said. “We plan to be very diligent on every one of them.”
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Paladino said he’s still hoping to get the tax incentive, which could help pay costs like acquisition and architectural and engineering fees at the historic apartments he plans to renovate.
He said he has moved tenants out of two units on Northwest Radial and into different units so rehab work can be done without interruption.
He said he needs TIF approval before moving forward on the $3.2 million Ainsworth and Beverly Apartments project. He said he has considered razing the buildings but said he likes old buildings. The structures at 2230 and 2236 Jones St. were built in 1919.
He wants to put in 33 apartments, which would be rented for $700 a month.
“We’re planning on still going for it,” Paladino said. “It’s really cool.”