GRIFFITH — When The Mansards apartment complex was acquired 14 months ago by Bayshore Properties, there was more than a change of names. A change in the crime rate also took place — a dramatic improvement.
Since acquiring the troubled complex in October 2016, the Merrillville-based firm gave it a new name, Park West Apartments, and is making major upgrades to its image.
During last week's Town Council meeting, Police Chief Greg Mance noted that overall crime in the complex is down 39 percent. There was a 79 percent reduction in burglaries and thefts are down 48 percent.
"The numbers look very promising," Mance said, adding that crime also is down 18 percent across the town.
The complex broke ground in 1965 and welcomed its first tenants in 1972, property manager Miljan Lukajic said.
Known then as a luxurious apartment complex, its image was tarnished in recent years with increasing crime rates. But that image is changing through the mutual cooperation of Bayshore and the Griffith police.
In particular, Griffith Officer Tony Hemphill, on special assignment for the past 14 months, has helped facilitate the improved crime numbers.
Hemphill said the major issues have been reduced to simple parking squabbles.
"The extraordinary reduction in crime over the last year at the complex is an example of the excellent work done by Officer Hemphill and our entire police department," said Town Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd.
He said the old ownership frequently battled with town officials, and that it is great to work with a cooperative owner.
Lukajic said his firm is taking "a proactive rather than reactive approach" to eliminate problems before they happen, including a strict screening process for future tenants.
Residents of the complex have enjoyed the improvement.
"I did notice a difference," Susan Miller said. "I do see things getting better."
She said things have been improving within the last year, especially since the new ownership took over.
However, other residents haven't seen it as an issue.
"I never saw any crime in this building," Marilyn Rosen said of her 25 years as a tenant.
"Without our residents, Chief Mance, the Griffith Police Department and the Griffith Town Council, we could not have experienced this positive change in 2017," Lukajic said.
He said major upgrades have been done to exterior sidings, building entrance glass, the parking lots and exterior lighting to go along with the landscaping, signs, renovated refuse stations, hallway carpeting, a 24-hour fitness center and the Match Point Tennis facility.
As the future unfolds, Lukajic said there are plans to revitalize and expand the unique amenities that made the complex such an iconic place to live.
This will include improved landscaping at the main complex sign, updating the complex entry area, lakes/ponds and the swimming pool areas.
Ryfa said the housing and business markets have exploded all over Griffith.
"The northern corridor is a very important part of our town, and the Town Council will strive to see that its economic and quality of life improvements continue and expand," he said.