It is sometimes said among the more senior members of a newsroom staff: There are no new stories, only new journalists.
Greensboro’s Agapion family and Arco Realty, the company it controls, seem intent on proving this old adage to be true.
Arco specializes in low-income housing of the type afforded to people with few other prospects — bad credit, criminal records and underemployment among them. Their apartments at the corner of Summit Avenue and Cone Boulevard cater most specifically to refugees. The family that perished when one of the units caught fire in May — all five children — came to Greensboro from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Concurrently, Arco Realty is being sued by the widow of Gary Lee Hickenbottom, a plumber who was electrocuted while working on an Agapion property on Kersey Street, Triad City Beat’s Jordan Green reported in June. A building inspector reported afterward that no permits had been secured for the wiring in the building, and that it was dangerously below code.
In February 2015, City Beat’s Eric Ginsburg reported that the Agapion family, through different companies, owed $346,775 in outstanding fines on their 400 Greensboro properties.
Fox 8 News reported in August 2013 that two Agapion apartment buildings on Floyd Street had been condemned by the city.
Credit Greensboro activist Andrew Young with reminding everyone on social media this week of a 2006 News & Record article by a forgotten staffer about a motion in Superior Court that accused family patriarch Bill Agapion of forging a tenant’s initials on an agreement indicating the tenant was aware of the lead paint in their Agapion-owned apartment — the family was suing the Agapions after a doctor found lead in their 4-year-old daughter’s bloodstream.
Legendary N&R reporter Lorraine Ahearn made it her business to hound the Agapion family through their various escapades in civil — though never criminal — court. One short piece from 2005 described Bill Agapion’s reaction to the Greensboro Housing Coalition after they took city council on a tour of distressed properties in the city, many of them under his control: A certified letter that read, in part, “Stay off our property.”
The paper trail goes back to the 1970s, for anyone who cares to delve into it. And yet the Agapions still maintain their family business, even as they have disrupted so many other families.
It’s not a reporter’s job to ask why, and so it falls upon the editorialist to ask the question: With a long record of inattention to properties and an actual body count, why is the Agapion family still doing business in Greensboro?
And what is the point of exposing them when it doesn’t seem to make a difference?