Roseville leaders reinstated the rental license for a portion of a 277-unit apartment complex this week, praising the more than $1 million in improvements made in recent months and a new outside management company that's been overseeing the work.

It was a dramatic turn of events in a 15-month conflict between the city and the property owner. Last fall, a clearly frustrated City Council had threatened to file suit against G&G Management, the owner of the troubled Marion Street/The Brittanys Apartments, if basic health and safety improvements were not made quickly.

At this week's meeting, the council voted unanimously to reinstate the rental license on three of 12 buildings in the complex located near the corner of Rice Street and Larpenteur Avenue.

"I am very pleased with how you are proceeding," Council Member Wayne Groff said at the Tuesday night meeting. "I think we are on the right track."

Staff with Core Living, a Minnetonka-based professional property management company that G&G hired in August, outlined a list of extensive repairs they've completed including new boilers, roofs, doors, appliances, paint and windows. Core Living has also spent $36,000 on pest control.

"We have been working tirelessly at that property," said Kristin Davidson, with Core Living.

Core Living plans to spend another $600,000 on repairs in the coming months and to seek rental license reinstatement of more buildings in the complex.

Roseville suspended the rental license for the entire complex in November 2019, citing dangerous and unhealthy conditions including leaky roofs, missing smoke detectors, cockroaches, mold and general disrepair. It was the first time the Ramsey County suburb had suspended a rental license at a large complex since it began licensing rentals in 2014.

At the time, city leaders said the complex was home to a diverse population, including immigrant families, who were being forced to live in unsafe conditions.

The complex couldn't accept new renters until the license was reinstated. Those living there have been allowed to stay and still pay rent.

City staff and council members grew frustrated at the quality and slow rate of repairs in the first half of 2020.

A man who had refused to provide his name but identified himself as an owner of the complex told the Star Tribune last summer that he had halted renovations in hopes of selling the complex to a nonprofit. That deal fell through.

Fire Chief Tim O'Neill, whose department oversees rental inspections, said he believes the inability to rent vacant apartments and the mounting financial consequences are what forced the owners to finally invest in the properties. At one more point, about 70 units sat vacant, O'Neill said.

"We think this is a victory for everyone involved. Our role is to make sure the buildings are safe and healthy for residents," he said.

Council members pressed Core Living to keep the units affordable and not dramatically increase rents.

Davidson said any rent increase this year would not exceed 3%.

Shannon Prather • 651-925-5037