03/31/16 12:00pm

Tremont Tower Condos, 3311 Yupon St., WAMM, Houston, 77006

A reader peers up the Westheimer-facing side of the Tremont Tower condo building, noting that the longterm resident tarp has recently settled back onto its habitual spot atop the dome behind Austin export Doc’s Bar & Grill (between Graustark and Yupon streets). The photographer previously caught the tarp neglecting its station about a month ago (shortly after that late-Feburary windy spell), giving the lemon-yellow dome its day (or few weeks) in the sun after at least a year under cover:

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Under Cover on Westheimer Rd.
06/24/08 5:00pm

Tremont Tower, 3311 Yupon St., Houston

It didn’t garner much local attention, but a certain local condo building — along with a few close friends — made a star appearance in last week’s big mortgage-scam announcement by the FBI. More than 400 people were charged in 144 separate mortgage fraud cases nationwide over the last 3 months as part of the agency’s “Operation Malicious Mortgage.” Six of those arrests were in Houston:

This indictment charges Houston-area residents Frankthea Annette Williams, Ishmael Boyd Laryea, Charles Joseph-DeShawn Wilson, Kristen Anne Way and Robert Wilfred Stanley, and Tasha Rene Bellow, of Burbank, Calif., with engaging in a scheme to defraud by providing false and fraudulent information to residential lenders to induce the lenders to fund the purchase of single family homes and condominium units.

11 News reporter Allison Triarsi describes how the scams worked:

The suspects would find a home for sale, let’s say $200,000.

They would then get a phony appraisal that would almost double the home’s actual value. In that case, $400,000.

The culprits would then look for an investor. That’s someone to actually put the house in their name using their good credit for the closing and title.

A bank would then loan the money for the house, which has the phony appraisal value. The crooks would then pay the seller the $200,000 asking price and pocket the other $200,000.

Here’s a question. If you were trying to run this scam, where would you find properties you could get appraised for as much as twice their actual value? Sure, Houston had some price runups . . . and yes, appraisals can be played. But why fake something you don’t have to?

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05/29/08 10:03am

Tremont Tower, Montrose, Houston

We get mail . . . from a reader who’s considering renting one of the many available condos in Montrose’s famed Tremont Tower:

I am moving to Houston in June and when I was looking around for housing I found an ad for a rental at Tremont Towers. I went to look at the place and liked it but something seemed odd to me. If this place is as nice as it looks, it is in Montrose (apparently a desirable area to live) why is is so silent and why does one man own at least 5 separate units and even more odd, why are they so cheap when last year they were valued at >300K (odd even in this real estate market). So, I plugged them into Google and started following a trail. I read about Jordan Fogle and Heather Mickelson.

I talked to my possible future landlord and he told me a story that Jordan Fogle confused the builder of Tremont with the ones who built her home. In addition he offered a story that the Heather Mickelson had purchased the property and then not long after moving in decided to move out with her boyfriend. Since they would not purchase the property back from her she sabotaged the apartment by opening her windows through all weather which then lead to some horrible development of mold.

My issue is that since the coverage in 2005-2006 I haven’t been able to find much information and I cannot verify either side of this tale. I was wondering if any readers had passed on more information about the Towers or if anything had been done in this building that had nearly 100% foreclosure. I am concerned because I would prefer to avoid paying nearly a thousand a month just so I can get sick and not be able to work.

A little more below, plus: your chance to help!

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12/12/07 2:13pm

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLqkHr77N0U 400 330]

So the actors aren’t likely to win any awards, but this new video posted to YouTube by Tremont Tower owner-victim-gadfly Heather Mickelson is notable for it’s uh . . . stirring illustration of the connection between construction-quality complaints and foreclosure train wrecks.

The Tremont is colorfully renamed “LemonTree Tower” in the video reenactment. If you’re new to the story, you’ll find better introductions to the sordid Montrose condo tale elsewhere. But if you’ve ever wondered why foreclosures seem to gather like flies around new developments that feature questionable levels of quality (and, say, water-tightness), this will make pretty good internet theater. No, the mortgage defaults aren’t the work of the millions of mold spores and the grim reaper, who together make cameo appearances in the video; they’re the ultimate result of the surefire sales techniques employed for undesirable properties — made so much easier, of course, by the subprime-mortgage boom.

Here’s the formula: Building with bad enclosure + poor disclosure = lots of foreclosure. Or just watch the video. At just over seven minutes, it’s still a lot shorter than Glengarry Glen Ross.

07/23/07 7:38pm

Tremont Tower in Montrose

Twenty-five Montrose homes were foreclosed on this month, reports the Houston Business Journal. That’s a huge increase from last July.

[Mike] Weaster, a Realtor with Century 21 Excel Realty, currently has about 45 foreclosed homes in the Montrose area listed for sale.

“There’s been a big time increase — I’ve never seen anything like this,” he says. “It’s something that is so unique to Houston that I can’t even tell my buyers what’s happening.”

What could be the problem? In Houston overall, there was no increase in mortgage foreclosures: 2,090 last July; 2,085 this month. So what is it with Montrose?

Well, here’s a clue:

Many of the foreclosed homes in Montrose have never even been occupied by the homeowner and were instead purchased by investors who apparently weren’t able to sell them, according to Weaster, who says he comes across first-payment defaults in Montrose at least once a week.

Weaster believes speculation investors and bad loans have taken a toll on the trendy neighborhood.

Still stumped? What if you learned that twelve of this month’s foreclosures alone were at the same address? And what if you discovered that the building at that address was the Tremont Tower?

Yeah, that Tremont Tower, at Yupon and Westheimer. The one featured in an article called “Contractors from Hell” in People magazine in 2005. And in the Houston Press. The one the Lemon Lady used to picket.

Does that help explain?