The owners of Boardwalk Apartments are asking all tenants to quickly leave their apartment complex, so they can do “something different” with it, an attorney said Tuesday.
Tenants have been urged to find somewhere else to live for their safety, according to a letter distributed to them on Friday and signed by Todd Thompson, a Lawrence attorney representing the ownership group, Boardwalk Apartments L.C.
An October 2005 fire at the apartment complex killed three people and left 20 injured, several of whom had to jump from the third floor of the apartment complex.
“The owner made the decision that after a horrible tragedy they just would like to have the complex vacated so that they can pursue other options,” Thompson said in a telephone interview Tuesday. He did not provide specifics on the plans for the apartment complex, 524 Frontier Road, which is currently valued at about $3.5 million by the Douglas County appraiser’s office.
The letter to tenants said the owners of the complex had recently been informed that the apartment buildings did “not comply with fire safety standards for newly constructed apartment buildings, and may not comply with the city’s fire safety code.”
Several fire victims and family members reached a $12 million out-of-court settlement with the complex on May 6.
Thompson, who did not represent the complex or its management company during the civil proceedings, said the decision not to renew leases was made “because of information and opinions rendered in the litigation.”
The lawsuit, which was settled out-of-court and paid by Boardwalk’s insurance company, alleged the apartment complex had an inadequate fire suppression system, alarm system and escape routes.
Jason Rose was convicted of setting the fire, and he currently is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
The fire killed Jose Gonzalez, Yolanda Riddle and Nicole Bingham.
The apartment complex is refunding tenants’ security deposits and allowing them to vacate the facility, without penalty, before the end of their lease terms. Thompson said the leases end at various times of the year.
While the ownership group has already won City Commission approval to construct new apartments at the site of the fire, Thompson said plans for the existing structures “has not been determined” and that the owners were weighing their options.