New owners Premier Properties agreed to improve environmental conditions at the complex after purchasing it in December 2021, but residents say they haven’t seen much change for the better yet.
By Matt Skoufalos | February 17, 2022
In the five years that the Parkview Apartments of Collingswood were owned by Morgan Properties of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, residents complained of an unresponsive relationship with management.
A litany of violent incidents at the property eventually drove the borough government to require Morgan to retain onsite security personnel there.
When the building was sold for $120 million to Premier Properties of Lakewood at the end of 2021, the borough negotiated a $27-million contingency list of improvements that Premier was to make to the 1,030-unit complex, including security and environmental upgrades.
Although the company has not yet exceeded its window for making those fixes, the need for them has not abated in the two months since Premier took possession of Park View.
Last week, an attack on a worker employed by the facility underscored the urgency with which residents say those changes are needed.
At 10:30 a.m. on February 11, Collingswood police responded to the Park View Towers for a report of an attempted sexual assault of a staff member.
The incident occurred in the stairwell of the B Building, where camera coverage is limited, and hours before onsite security crews were scheduled to go on duty at 3 p.m.
Collingswood Police Chief Kevin Carey said the incident was “an attempt,” and that “no sexual assault did occur,” but the encounter illustrated both the vulnerability of tenants and workers to future attacks at Park View, as well as the apparent indifference of the property managers to their concerns.
Premier Properties did not respond to multiple requests for comment about this attack, nor has it acknowledged other, repeated inquiries about the general safety and security of the complex.
Although Carey said that crime trends are up “universally across the board,” including both assaults of strangers and intimate partner violence, he regards last Friday’s attack as an uncommon occurrence.
Police are still working to identify a suspect, but the chief said the investigation is hindered by blind spots in the stairwell that obscure camera sightlines.
Premier has committed to improving security at the complex—adding cameras, replacing locks on doors and windows, and staffing building lobbies with security personnel—but those changes are still in the works, Carey said.
“They can’t put security cameras up overnight, but they are taking steps to get coverage over every building,” he said.
In response to the incident, Collingswood Police have stepped up their check-ins with the onsite security team at Park View multiple times daily, and Carey said “communication and collaboration between the borough and Premier has been great.
“They met with us, they came up with a comprehensive plan, and the guards are doing what the agreement says has to be done,” the chief said. “All the things we’ve identified, they’ve taken actions to meet those goals.”
Since Premier has taken over the property, Carey said Collingswood Police have seen a reduction in calls for service, and that the only complaints it’s received have come through the onsite security team, which is led by IronRock Security of Lakewood.
He advised residents and visitors to the Park View to “avoid the stairwells of any building, if you can.
“Generally they’re not under surveillance,” the chief said; “they’re generally darker, there’s not a lot of traffic in them. There’s not that public eye.”
‘Nobody feels safe here’
But at Park View, the option to skip the stairwell might not always be available.
Residents say the elevators onsite are frequently inoperable, leaving them no choice but to take the stairs in the 10-story towers.
Within the stairwells, they also have reported encountering a minefield of human and animal waste, drug paraphernalia and use, trash, and copulation.
Tenant Kylie Penta, who’s disgusted by the neglect at the property, said the stairwells are so infrequently monitored that someone used to live in hers. Since the sale from Morgan Properties to Premier, “nothing’s changed,” Penta said.
“The day after the assault, the only difference was the security officer had a police radio,” she said. “Our security guard is a woman my height. Nobody feels safe here.”
Beyond their frustrations with the violence at the property, Penta said tenants can’t get facilities issues resolved when they report them. For example, she said, the laundry machines in the C Building are currently offline. When tenants notified building management, they were told it was on them to contact Sebco Corporation, which provides the machines.
“With Premier, everything is blamed on the tenants, and everything is left up to the tenants,” Penta said. “We’re fixing our own utilities. We’re responsible for our own safety. And if you make a mistake as a tenant, it’s on you.”
“We’re paying a lot of money to live here, and you feel like a criminal living here,” she said. “Being poor doesn’t make you a second-class citizen.”
Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley said that borough officials are trying to get on top of the investigation so that it can be resolved quickly, but that in general, Premier has been “much more responsive” when communicating “on all fronts.”
“This is unfortunate, not good, can’t happen,” Maley said.
“We’re in the process of getting more cameras up,” he said.
“A lot of this is transition.
“We’ve been comfortable that they’re trying to take a different tack on security, on the cleanliness, trying to keep the stairwells clear and clean,” Maley said.
In general, the mayor said he believes the assault is representative of general lawless behavior that’s “the hangover since coming out of this pandemic.
“Nobody thinks any rule applies to them,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a helter-skelter. Pick an issue, nobody’s paying any attention to the rules. Now it’s time to tighten up a little bit.”
Anyone with information about the assault is asked to call Collingswood Police Det. Connor Collins at 856-854-1901, x262. Stick with NJ Pen for updates.
Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or try our Direct Dispatch text alerts.