2019 | Real Estate

Management Group Formerly in Charge of Troubled Silver Spring Apartments Buys New Complex

Vista at White Oak includes 272 units

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Vista at White Oak apartments.

Via The Donaldson Group

A management company formerly in charge of a Silver Spring apartment complex riddled with thousands of housing code violations has acquired another complex about 1 mile away.

As of June, Rockville-based The Donaldson Group no longer manages The Enclave Apartments, where Montgomery County building inspectors found hundreds of violations related to mold and bug infestations.

On Monday, the company announced it had, in partnership with New York City-based Declaration Partners, purchased Vista at White Oak Apartments on Lockwood Drive.

The 272-unit apartment community was purchased for $53 million, according to a news release from The Donaldson Group. The apartments were built in 1980 and are near the White Oak Federal Research Campus, home to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration headquarters.

The Enclave is about 1 mile to the west.

The Donaldson Group is named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by tenants in Montgomery County Circuit Court, alleging the company and the apartment owners, Enclave Holdings LLC, were negligent in failing to fix persistent mold problems for more than three years.

In February, county inspectors recorded more than 2,500 code violations in 829 units at the high-rise apartment complex, near U.S. 29 and New Hampshire Avenue in the White Oak area, and found an average of 3.1 violations per unit.

The inspection piggybacked on a September 2018 inspection of roughly 300 apartments that uncovered 367 violations.

Between the two inspections, which included about 97 percent of units, 16 percent of violations were considered health and safety issues, including mold, mice and roach infestations, according to inspection reports.

When The Donaldson Group vacated its position as management company for The Enclave, it said fewer than 5% of violations had not been fixed. In statements, the company often said the problems predated its involvement with the apartments.

In email conversations between The Donaldson Group and Enclave Holdings, obtained by Bethesda Beat, The Donaldson Group says it was not provided with monetary resources to address the remaining violations, while Enclave Holdings argues it was not aware of the severity of the problems.

The Donaldson Group also manages the Kentlands Manor Senior Apartments in Gaithersburg, and four other complexes in Silver Spring, along with communities in Washington, D.C., Virginia and throughout Maryland.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com