Elusive apartment owner owes $100,000 to city
BATON ROUGE - Conditions continue to get worse at an apartment complex with a history of trouble in Baton Rouge.
The majority owner of the Brandywine Apartments, Dr. Stephen Ayers from Lake Charles, missed utility payments for years and now owes the city more than $100,000. The parish told News 2 he has until Friday to settle up, or water service to the property will be shut off.
Residents told News 2 they've faithfully paid hundreds of dollars each month for their utilities, and receiving the shutoff notices from the city-parish came as a shock.
"Now they're gonna slap me in the face and say, now we're gonna cut you off," said Francis Lafleur, "so where's the money that we've all been paying?"
Brandywine has a host of other problems, including repairs which residents say continue to stack up and a bad reputation for crime due to the dilapidated conditions. Hundreds have left in recent years, and many apartments remain boarded up.
City leaders told News 2 they still can't contact Ayers about the outstanding balance, and parish attorneys said there has never been this much money owed for delinquent utilities. A secretary at Brandywine's management office told News 2 today he's going to pay, but wasn't sure when that would be.
Calls to Ayers' phone number weren't answered, and neighbors said they haven't seen him in years. Many of them would be forced to move if the water gets shut off, which they suspect may be the elusive owner's end goal.
"We're gonna have to find another place to live," Lafleur said. "Even though we paid for our for 30 years. We paid for it. It's paid out and consequently we have to find another place to live."