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City of Columbus Defies Federal Court in Demolition of 250 Homes 

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: (727) 487-1746 City of Columbus Defies Federal Court in Demolition of 250 Homes Fort Benning Community Loses Affordable Housing Options to I-185 Construction Project Columbus, GA (Nov. 22, 2019) – The City of Columbus disregarded a federal court order and demolished more than 200 affordable housing units at Fort Benning Estates in South Columbus, Georgia. Columbus Partners Community Trust, the owner of the property, has filed a “Motion for Damages” against the city in Federal Bankruptcy Court, Tampa, FL for violation of Section 366 of the Bankruptcy Code. Columbus Partners Community Trust acquired Fort Benning Estates, an affordable housing community and mobile home park; and a neighbor property in 2016 and invested $250,000 in renovations to the properties. Located near the Fort Benning military installation, the community provides much needed affordable housing in an area lacking housing options. It also lies in the way of a multimillion-dollar federal infrastructure improvement project – the new I-185 offramp in South Columbus. In November of last year, Fort Benning Estates was cited by the City of Columbus for code violations after water to the property was shut off by the city. The property owners and the city faced off in local court over skyrocketing water bills caused by city utility infrastructure issues including unregulated and dangerously high water pressure, which continued unaddressed by the city. “Instead of following federal eminent domain procedures to acquire the land the City of Columbus needed for a federal construction project, we were singled out by city code officials who accelerated the process of condemning the property in just weeks based on impacts caused by pipes owned by the city,” said Caleb Walsh, a Florida-based real estate developer and owner of Columbus Partners Community Trust. In July 2019, Columbus Partners Community Trust filed a Petition for Voluntary Bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of Title 11 in Federal Bankruptcy Court. The bankruptcy filing was precipitated by the city’s wrongful actions in claiming the property was condemned and removing residents from their homes; however, no official condemnation proceedings were ever served to the property owner. The court granted an automatic stay and the case is still pending in federal court. “It has been one year since the residents of two affordable living communities near Fort Benning learned they were being kicked out of their homes during the holidays by the City of Columbus and just last week I learned after the fact, that the city had demoed both properties, in defiance of a federal court order,” said Mr. Walsh. Columbus Partners Community Trust learned this week that the City of Columbus had defied the federal order and demolished more than 200 affordable housing units at Fort Benning Estates. Homes at Cusseta Road Park were demolished without the owner’s knowledge by the city in August of this year. On November 18 Columbus Partners Community Trust filed an Award of Damages against the city in Federal Bankruptcy Court for misconduct and violation of the automatic stay and Section 366 of the Bankruptcy Code. “The two properties destroyed this year by the City of Columbus provided affordable living options for residents, located near a military base in an area where affordable housing is scarce,” said Mr. Walsh. “We had an ongoing waiting list of prospective tenants for these properties. We are committed to improving access to affordable living options for Georgia residents and we urge to City of Columbus to do the right thing and support our efforts.”


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