NORTH ADAMS — Rats, months of uncollected garbage, faulty heating and electrical systems, roof leaks, mold and more prompted city regulators to condemn an eight-unit High Street apartment complex Wednesday afternoon.
Sources who asked to remain anonymous say the apartments at 35-37 High St. had been "unlivable" for months, but it took numerous reports, reaching all the way to Mayor Richard J. Alcombright, before a 3 p.m. city inspection confirmed the circumstances.
It resulted in the condemnation of the building and prompt efforts to relocate the affected tenants.
A total of 24 people — 13 of them children — were living inside the eight units.
As of Wednesday night, sources told The Eagle that all but one of these families had found places to stay with friends or family or at local motels.
The owner of 35-37 High St., Christopher Bonnivier, put the apartments up for sale on the website craigslist.com two weeks ago. The asking price was $249,000.
Now, according to North Adams officials, he's working with the city to do what needs to be done to reopen the apartments.
"My impressions from our meetings [with Bonnivier] this afternoon was that he was going to get contractors to make the necessary repairs," said North Adams Fire Chief Steven Meranti.
Meranti said he and members of the health and building departments inspected the apartments Wednesday in response to complaints from one of the tenants. All parties concluded that the building should be condemned.
City Administrator Michael Canales added, "The owner has pledged to work with the city and tenants to address the issues that have been identified."
Sources say plenty of red flags presented themselves at the High Street complex prior to the inspection. Recently, the tenants went several days without hot water before the Fire Department compelled Bonnivier to turn it back on.
Additionally, many of the units lacked certificates of occupancy, and much unlicensed work had been performed on the premises, leading to a variety of issues, sources said.
The same sources told The Eagle they were skeptical that the building would be reopened for occupancy anytime in the near future.
The First Baptist Church of North Adams is assisting in relocating one of the tenants. Meanwhile, Meranti said tenants will be permitted free access to the building "in the daylight hours" to move their belongings from the premises.
"The utilities have been disconnected from the building, so it's secure," Meranti said.
Sources say the rent being charged tenants who lived there varied between units but ranged from around $900 to more than $1,200.
Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.