Apartment owner criticized as notorious slumlord sells his Colorado Springs properties

Terry Ragan, the longtime Colorado Springs apartment owner whom public officials have labeled a slumlord because of health, safety and building code violations at his properties, has sold his remaining seven apartment complexes to a Denver buyer.

Slipstream Properties, an apartment development company, has paid $102.25 million to acquire Ragan’s properties, according to Nexus Commercial Realty, a brokerage that represented Slipstream in the deal. Slipstream owns one other Colorado Springs property, Nexus said.

Ragan could not be reached for comment Thursday. His son, Todd, declined to comment and told a Gazette reporter his decision to remain silent came because “you’re the media. You’re a bad person.”

The sale had not shown up in the El Paso County clerk and recorder’s data base as of late Thursday afternoon. Nexus officials said Terry Ragan had been selling portions of his portfolio over the last five years to reduce its size and the seven properties “represented the last of the multifamily buildings” that he owned and operated.

Six of the seven Ragan apartment properties are on Colorado Springs’ southeast side and catered to lower income residents, some of whom complained bitterly over living conditions that included cockroaches, leaky pipes, bedbugs, mold and a lack of heat.

Ragan’s sale of the properties comes two months after the Colorado Springs City Council took its first major step in years to curtail problematic rental practices by imposing new laws and higher fees for repeat and chronic offenders.

Councilwoman Yolanda Avila, whose southeast district includes six Ragan properties, wondered Thursday whether the new laws nudged Ragan toward the sale.

“That would have hit the pocket hard,” Avila said of the increased fees.

The sale represents a significant victory for the city’s southeast side, Avila added.

“I hope we can replace him with a great landlord,” she said.

Slipstream officials couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

Nexus Commercial’s Adam Riddle said Slipstream will launch property renovations, although he didn’t know how much the company will invest or the extent of the upgrades.

“I think they would consider them major,” Riddle said. “Different properties, I think, need different things. They’re definitely, first and foremost, they’re addressing all of the capital, just the immediate capital needs. Whether that’s roofs or boilers or windows or whatever, paint, whatever that may be. They just got to get all that stuff back up to snuff. And then they’ll focus on more units and clubhouses and things of that nature.”

Avila wants to sit down with the buyer, along with other community leaders, and discuss the area’s needs. The hope is for Slipstream to renovate the buildings, but keep rents affordable, she said.

But with the amount of work that needs to be done, maintaining low rents might be difficult, said Councilman Andy Pico, whose northeast district holds Ragan’s seventh complex, New Horizons.

New ownership for the apartments is encouraging, though “they have their work cut out for them,” Pico said.

“As people come in and rehabilitate the apartments and bring them up to speed they’ll have to spend some money,” he said.

Renovating the properties without displacing current tenants will be challenging, Pico added.

Already the city is anticipating a shortage of 26,000 affordable housing units for next year.

Up to 1,000 affordable units are needed for the homeless and up to 2,500 are needed for elderly residents. Much of the rest of that deficit is needed by working families.

Steve Posey, the city’s program administrator for Housing and Urban Development has said he anticipates up to 1,000 affordable units will be built in the city by next year. Renovating properties like Ragan’s is another way of boosting the city’s affordable housing stock, he has said.

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