St. Croix Apartments Sold to New Developer

The St. Croix Apartments were auctioned off on November 21st, netting a price of $321,000. The new owner, Sadiq Shaik (in doorway with hat), will most likely keep the existing apartment format. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

The former St. Croix Apartments in Calais – a large apartment building once used to provide housing for the elderly and the disabled before being declared unsafe and mandatorily vacated last year – has been sold to a new developer at auction. The auction, which was attended by approximately 15 people, yielded a price of just over $321,000 for the 26-unit building. 

The apartment building was previously owned by Aaron Gleich of New York, an absentee landlord that would enlist tenants to serve as property managers. The building suffered from a lack of repairs, including having a non-functioning elevator and faulty fire alarms, in addition to numerous repairs required in individual apartments. As a result of the lack of an elevator and the faulty fire alarm, the Maine office of Housing and Urban Development refused to renew the building’s contract on March 1st, 2016. Dozens of tenants, some of whom had lived in the building for a decade or more, were forced to find alternative housing, nearly all of which was located outside of Calais. 

Due to the situation surrounding the mandatory evacuation of the building and the long period of time in which the tenants were living in hazardous conditions, 15 former tenants filed a lawsuit against Gleich with the help of Pine Tree Legal. That lawsuit resolved earlier this year in favor of the tenants. “The judgment allows our clients to be reimbursed for the amounts of rent paid during the period of time that the conditions in the building were unsafe,” Pine Tree legal representative Katy Childs said. “Our hope is that this case will help ensure safe housing in Calais.” Childs said that the previous tenants can expect to receive their awards by early next year.

 With the legal issues resolved, the building was placed up for auction. The buyer, Sadiq Shaik, owns properties located around the state. While he isn’t yet certain what the building will be utilized for, he will most likely make use of the existing apartment format, according to City Manager Jim Porter. Porter spoke with Shaik after the auction. Shaik has thirty days from the date of the auction, November 21st, to finalize the sale with payment. 

“I’m optimistic it will turn out okay for the city,” Porter said. “I was impressed by the amount it sold for.”