A scattering of drones took to the air across Houston yesterday as the rain slowed to do some sight-seeing around the brand new 9-county disaster zonedeclared by governor Abbott in the afternoon. Filling up during floods is standard operating procedure for Buffalo Bayou Park, as demonstrated prior to the park’s first planned official opening last spring. That’s not part of the sanctioned protocol for all of Houston’s bayou corridors, but it’s hard to argue about it in the moment —above is the overhead view of Brays Bayou venturing out into broader Meyerland.
More footage comes from northwest Houston, circling around White Oak Bayou at N. Houston Rosslyn Rd. in Inwood Forest — west and downstream of some the areas that got the most rainfall:
One of the Inwood Forest properties near the neighborhood’s former golf course and clubhouse seems to have split personality. A stately late seventies contemporary — tiers of windows in a variety of sizes and groupings finish out an assortment of bump-outs (and bump-ups) — opts for some How the West Was Fun flourishes inside (top). The property, located on Antoine Dr. north of W. Little York, faces a side street but takes its address from the thoroughfare. In its relisting over the weekend, the 1979 custom home’s asking price is set at $214K. A previous listing by the same agent had sought $242K in June 2014, with a reduction to $222K in August.
Today, two and a half years after city officials shut down the Gables of Inwood apartments and ordered all its tenants to move out, demolition crews began tearing down the squatter-friendly 163-unit, 10-building, 4 1/2-acre Inwood Forest complex — a process expected to take 6 weeks. City officials say they hope to recoup the $400,000 cost of the demo from the owner, Collins Ofoegbu of El Sobrante, California. But that may not be so easy. As of August 2009, Ofoegbu ranked as Houston’s top scofflaw, having racked up more than 700 building-code violations for issues with the property at 5600 Holly View Dr. His attorney told the Chronicle at the time that the warrants couldn’t be resolved until Ofoegbu settled a dispute with his insurance company, which he said had refused to pay for damages resulting from a fire at the complex.
REGISTERED AGENTS FOR CONDOS A bill recently passed by the Texas Legislature — inspired by problems encountered in contacting the 150 separate owners of Candlelight Trails in northwest Houston — would make it a whole lot easier for the city to demolish decrepit condo complexes. “The bill by Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, applies only to Houston. It requires every condo development to maintain a registered agent to accept service of legal papers; if any development fails to do so, the Texas secretary of state automatically becomes the agent. The law will take effect Sept. 1 if Gov. Rick Perry signs it or allows it to become law without his signature. Perry will review the measure carefully before deciding, spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said. Current law requires each owner to be served either in person or through a legal notice in a newspaper. Defendants served through publication have two years to file a motion for a new trial. ‘It is extremely time-consuming, expensive and allows the substandard and often dangerous conditions to continue while the city struggles to obtain personal service on each owner,’ Ann Travis, Mayor Bill White’s governmental affairs director, said in a background document explaining the bill.” [Houston Chronicle]
COMMENT OF THE DAY: CANDLELIGHT TRAILS, DIMMED “My family lived there for 17 years (1985-2001) and we watched this place transform from a luxury conodo complex into a complete waste. We frequently revisitied the complex on several occaisions and it stayed just about the same from the late 1980s until now. The danger of living there really showed its true colors when we went onto the abandoned property last January and discovered a murder scene in our old condo. For many reasons I want this place torn down, but for the most reasons, I don’t want this place down mainly because that used to be my home and where I grew up and seeing it go into the ground might be too much of a sight to bear on my part. Despite this, I rest easily knowing that the complex will never be torn down because it was one of those ‘take action for a day and feel good about it but forget about it the next day’ types of situations so there is no doubt in my mind that the buildings will remain standing as long as I live.” [John, commenting on Lights Out for Candlelight Trails?]
City building officials closed down the Candlelight Trails condo complex in northwest Houston 14 months ago, citing substandard living conditions. But neighbors have still been complaining about squatters and crime. Now the Chronicle‘s Matt Stiles reports that city attorneys have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to allow them to demolish it:
the complex technically is a condominium property, so the city has to sue 150 owners to get authority to tear the property down. The City Council is set to vote this week to hire a law firm for those cases.
Chronicle reporter Matt Stiles continues his tour of substandard Houston apartments, stopping this week for a visit at the 172-unit Candlewood Glen Apartments, near the 5400 block of DeSoto:
Now, only about 12 units remain legally occupied, and the management office is shuttered. Rotting trash sits in piles. Copper pipes and air conditioners’ coils have been ripped on a mass scale from burglarized units. The swimming pool is filled with water the color of crude oil.
“It’s just a horrible place,” said Roy Millmore, executive director of the Near Northwest Management District, an organization that focuses on reducing crime in the area.
The poor conditions inside the complex have persisted for months, in part because many of the property’s 43 fourplexes are owned by out-of-state investors, rather than a single owner. That makes applying pressure to improve conditions more complicated for city inspectors.
Still, code inspectors had not visited the property in a decade until the Houston Chronicle documented its conditions. City officials say they had not received complaints from people living there and that they are trying to enforce codes more aggressively than in years past.
After the jump: Stiles’s Candlewood Glen Apartments photo tour. Plus: Available now!