May 22, 2009 in City

Apartment developer settles Fair Housing suit

Thomas Clouse Staff writer
 

A Spokane-area developer has settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department over four apartment complexes built without proper access for people with disabilities.

As part of the settlement, Developer Lanzce Douglass will pay $120,000 to compensate any persons harmed by the inaccessible housing and a $10,000 civil penalty for violating the Fair Housing Act.

In addition, Douglass will pay all related costs of retrofitting the apartment complexes to make them accessible to persons with disabilities. The complexes are the Rock Creek Apartments at 6911 N. Nevada St.; the Prairie Hills Apartments at 1718 E. Lincoln Road; the Granite Court Apartments at 15408 E. Fourth Ave.; and the Hilby Station Apartments at 5317 S. Palouse Highway.

“This settlement agreement makes clear the federal government takes seriously accessibility requirements for multifamily housing,” said Loretta King, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

The lawsuit was filed in 2007 against Douglass and the architects and engineers he hired to build five large apartment complexes.

The Pineridge Apartments, at 8618 N. Mayfair, originally were named in the suit, but that property was not listed in the settlement announcement, which also named Spokane architect Donald E. Neraas; architect Ralph W. Hoover; Independent Home Designs Inc; the engineering firm J.R. Bonnett Engineering Inc.; and engineer Gary S. Nelson.

The retrofitting will include modifying walkways to eliminate steep slopes; providing accessible curb ramps; and parking and routes to site amenities, such as clubhouses, pools, mailboxes and trash collection.

The settlement also calls for changing doorknobs to levers, widening doorways and reconfiguring bathrooms and kitchens to accommodate people who use wheelchairs, according to the government news release.

“This settlement assures that these multifamily housing complexes will be modified to comply with the Fair Housing Act,” said U.S. Attorney James McDevitt.

Douglass did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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