Iowa’s largest apartment complex is going smoke-free following a fire last month that was blamed on improperly discarded cigarettes.
Keith Denner is president of Professional Property Management – which owns the Sun Prairie Apartments in West Des Moines. He says nine of the 41 buildings in the complex were declared smoke-free a year-and-a-half ago. “The fire kind of took us over the hump and we just decided we’re going to go 100-percent,” Denner said.
Current tenants will be allowed to continue smoking in their apartments through July 1. After that date, residents caught lighting up in their apartments or on their balconies will receive a warning and could be evicted if the behavior continues. “We are going to provide places for our tenants to smoke on the property,” Denner said. “They can smoke in their cars or they can smoke in some outdoor areas we are going to provide.”
In addition, the rental company is partnering with the American Lung Association to give free smoking cessation classes to residents. Those who complete the eight-week course will be eligible for up to $100 reimbursement for nicotine patches and gum. Nearly 3,000 people live in the Sun Prairie Apartments.
Denner believes other apartment owners around the state will be adopting smoking bans. “I assume they probably would because the nine buildings we (made smoke-free) a year-and-half-ago…those are the fullest. They’ve had the least vacancy,” Denner said. A survey of Sun Prairie residents conducted in 2008 found nearly 80% preferred living in a smoke-free building.
The fire at Sun Prairie on January 29 damaged or destroyed 36 apartments and displaced 100 people. No one was injured. Damage was estimated at $1 million.