“Misplaced proof” led Greensboro Metropolis to return to an settlement with Arco | information
In August 2019, Greensboro City attorneys filed a lawsuit against Arco Realty, the controversial real estate management company owned by the Agapion family, for $ 682,000 in unpaid fines. Five months ago, the city accepted a $ 200,000 deal.
The city’s lawsuit began with an outburst of publicity and haunted rhetoric, as reported by YES! Weekly, Triad City Beat, The News and Record, and WFMY. When the lawsuit was resolved on March 2, 2021, there were no press conferences or speeches and no media reports until then.
“I’ve had it with her, and you can quote me about it,” Mayor Nancy Vaughan told YES! Weekly two years ago, according to a May 22, 2019 press conference outside a condemned house at 605 Waugh St. in Greensboro.
The mayor meant Irene Agapion-Martinez from Arco Realty. During the press conference, Vaughan and Brett Byerly, executive director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition, stated that Arco and the Agapion family had accepted a renter’s deposit on the house despite the property being repaired.
Arco also managed the Summit-Cone Apartments at 3100 Summit Ave., where five refugee children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo were killed in a fire on May 12, 2018. The tragedy made headlines across the country when it was picked up by USA Today.
In 2017, Gary Lee Hickenbottom, a plumber hired by Arco to carry out repairs on an apartment complex on 2316 Kersey St., was fatally hit by an exposed wire in the crawl space. Hours after Hickenbottom crawled under the building, the tenants realized he hadn’t reappeared and called the fire department. A fire chief found his body.
Chapter 2: Not Up to Code, the second part of David Ford’s five-part “Unsafe Haven” series, which aired on public radio WFDD 88.5 in December 2018, described the “long list of code violations” of the Cone Summit complex since its establishment by Bill Agapion in 1963. Ford identified Bill and Sophia Agapion and their son Basil as owners of the complex and Bill and Sophia’s daughter Irene Agapion-Martinez as their property manager. In that episode, Ford also stated that “the Agapions’ reputation for cutting corners was well established as early as the 1970s”.
At the 2019 press conference, Mayor Vaughan YES! Weekly on the city’s intention to sue Arco, Brett Byerly described the Agapion family as “no shame and lots of money”.
The city’s lawsuit was not in response to the deaths, but instead was over $ 682,000 in unpaid fines.
In March, the city was satisfied with less than a third of it. YES INDEED! Weekly learned of the settlement last Friday when that reporter interviewed Justin Outling, the District 3 city council representative, for an upcoming article about Outling’s mayoral bid in next year’s delayed local elections.
When asked about the 2019 litigation, Outling said, “I don’t think it was shared or widely discussed, but the city’s lawsuit against Arco was settled on terms that are exceptionally favorable to Arco and the Agapions. I have objected to this because I did not share the attitude with them, especially given the damage they have done to our community, both on the level of the really big picture and in individual suffering. “
On Sunday Mayor Vaughan gave YES! Weekly following explanation of the billing amount.
“We took Arco to court for their outstanding fees. There were some issues with how old some of the bills we issued were and some evidence had been misplaced where they had brought us a box of receipts. We had it on a spreadsheet but apparently someone from the staff misplaced that box with the receipts. They get credit for how much they spent to fix the violations, so they would have been due some sort of credit. Glad we aggressively pursued them and raised $ 200,000 for these fines. I think it shows them that we really make sure that the landlords carry out their repairs on time. “
When told that Outling claimed he was against such an “extremely favorable deal,” Vaughan said, “We had the problem of going to court and spending more money on court fees. We hear that in many cases. However, the fact was, the staff said some of the evidence was out of place, which put us at a disadvantage. I want to say that the fact that we took them to court and that we have recovered certainly sends a message. “
On Monday YES! Weekly filed a public request for information for minutes and other records of the city council’s deliberations that led to the decision to deal with $ 200,000.
Ian McDowell is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a plethora of non-fiction and journalism that he is proud of and not ashamed of.