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Grace Place tenants forced from apartments to spend Thanksgiving displaced

Grace Place tenants forced from apartments to spend Thanksgiving displaced
Posted at 11:35 PM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 18:23:53-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The nearly 60 Grace Place Apartment's tenants forced from their homes in a matter of hours last month will likely spend Thanksgiving displaced as property management continues to address issues with the building.

Weeks after the Grace Place Apartments failed a building inspection, residents were once again told Tuesday that they would not be coming home.

"We're going to spend Thanksgiving here," said Jennifer Orishak, one of several tenants being housed by property management in a West End hotel.

The hotel was miles away from the Grace Place Apartments. Orishak, who relies on a walker, said it wasn't easy for her to get around.

"It's complicated to even get food. I'm tired of eating Oodles of Noodles out of a microwave," Orishak said.

She said it was like her life had been put on hold, each week receiving a text from property management that their stay would be extended.

"It's the same thing we've been hearing -- been getting the run-around," said Orishak.

She showed CBS 6 a text message from property management Tuesday letting residents know that 'due to unforeseen circumstances,' city officials were not allowing the building to reopen Tuesday.

"We apologize for the late text message," the text read. "We have extended your hotel room stays through Monday, November 29th."

The text came in at 1:44 p.m., preceded by a similar text from weeks earlier. Orishak said Tuesday's notice came hours after she and other residents believed they would be checking out.

"So, I'm sitting there on pins and needles, wondering what we’re supposed to do," Orishak said.

CBS 6 has been following this incident since news broke on October 22nd. Since then property manager, Stanley Thompson, with Residential ONE has refused to answer our questions pertaining to when he became aware of the issue, what was and is being done to address those issues, and how he’s communicating and handling the situation with residents.

But as of Tuesday, a spokesperson with Richmond Fire indicated that work was nearly complete.

Since beginning in October, property management had completed four of five tasks required by the city, including an inspection by an engineer, who found no major structural damage to the building or structural repairs needed.

Before that, fire suppression systems and the fire alarm panel were repaired, and the building was sanitized and the trash chute was cleaned out.

The only task left Tuesday, was to repair the elevators, the main issue being the Phase II Fire Service Control Switch, according to Richmond Fire.

"I'm on standby," said Orishak.

She said she was hopeful the issue would be resolved soon.

"Don’t forget about us. Because we don't really have a place to go," Orishak said.

CBS 6 has learned that before the building was deemed unsafe, Richmond Fire found another issue during a routine inspection in June.

A spokesperson with Richmond Fire said there was a leaky roof that property management repaired in August.