What’s Going on with the Oaks of Brittany Apartments on Wilcrest?

Oaks of Brittany Apartments, 1201 Wilcrest Dr., Memorial, Houston

A reader wants to know what, if anything, is happening to the run-down apartment complex at 1201 Wilcrest Dr. just north of Briar Forest Dr. and across the street from the Westside Tennis & Fitness Club: “Some renovation work began many months ago, including new windows and the start of a roof. Unfortunately, the roof was never completed, windows have been boarded up, and now the whole place looks abandoned.” The complex is called the Oaks of Brittany.

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Oaks of Brittany Apartments, 1201 Wilcrest Dr., Memorial, Houston

Photos: Shannon Otermat

Boarded Up

22 Comment

  • This kind of thing makes my blood boil: real estate investors who are either complete morons and get in over their heads; or dishonest assholes who buy properties and intentionally let them rot for whatever reason. In this case it appears to be a bunch of moronic assholes from Tucson AZ. They give real estate investors a bad name. But more than that, they wreck neighborhoods.
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    And then the developers wonder why neighbors don’t want any more apartments! Honestly, look around people. Look at complexes like the Oaks of Brittany. If we can’t even count on the old ones getting fixed, how can you expect us to welcome new developments?

  • Brittany really has seen better days, her shudders are uneven her windows are boarded up. In fairness she looks better than K-Fed. Honestly, she was always taking her roof off and she never wore a shade on her main window (TMZ loved when she forgot her shade when she stepped out of a car). Would someone please fix her up, she may be worn out but a retread would last until a new version of Brittany comes along.

  • And the fence is tipping over –
    Hydraulic issues?
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    Shannon, have you been drinking?

  • I live in the area and did notice someone replacing the wood panels that cover the windows. This was maybe 3 weeks ago. I always that that would be ripe for a tear down and replaced with a small enclave of single family homes…

  • What a dump this place is! Looks like a crack house slum! I am flabbergasted at any reasoning to leave it there in this shape for more than a year. The city should be sued, as well as the owners. Can you believe this is near the Lakeside Country Club and Westside Tennis Club?? They must be furious! It is dragging down the real estate near by. There is absolutely no good excuse for this trash heap.

  • @ ZAW: There’s not a whole lot that you can do to keep morons from investing in real estate. That’ll happen. Sometimes its just bad luck, a partner dies or bows out unexpectedly or for whatever other reason can’t make cash calls or rise to meet their obligations. There’s all sorts of stuff that can get in the way of somebody’s otherwise good idea. Some folks are fortunate enough that the crazy stuff never happens to them (at least on their first project), but some people cut their teeth the hard way and early on. And the truth of the matter is, a place like Sharpstown is an area that is financially accessible enough to an investor that’s really only just starting off that — yes, this is where mistakes get made, this is where lessons are learned. They aren’t going to learn their lessons on a property that trades at sub-5% cap rate. That’s just how it is.

    Also, I strongly disagree with your characterization of people who buy a property and run it into the ground as being “dishonest assholes”. They might be assholes, but they’re only dishonest if they say one thing and do something else. Most of my slumlord clients have been pretty straight-up characters, not necessarily likable but easy to do business with. They pay their bills with minimal prodding. Its actually the ones that over-improve their properties because they’ve allowed their perceptions of themselves and the sort of person that they’d like to be contaminate their spreadsheets, those are the ones that I’ve had problems with in terms of their honesty. (My two anecdotal cents, take them for what they’re worth.)

  • ZAW: If we’re talking about things that make our blood boil, I know some of our biggest turn around projects have been drastically slowed down by the city. Maybe my experience is the exception but 9 times out of 10 when I try to fix up a property, the city seems like my biggest enemy (sadly).
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    Maybe these guys were in the process of fixing it up and the city came in and said “no, you can’t do anything untill…” so they said “eh, that’s simply not possible” and it stopped.
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    I could talk your ear off about some of the horror stories I’ve had. I know there are several projects of ours that are not as nice as they could have been simply because the city took the fight out of us.

  • Your slum lord clients ARE dishonest assholes, Niche. They were raised as greedy, little shysters who put personal profits above all else. When it comes right down to it, they’d rather drive a Hummer and live in a $1 million house than meet life safety codes on their properties. That’s dishonest, Niche, even if they never lied to you about their intentions (that you know of).
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    Next to the schools, this is a big part of why I’m leaving for the ‘burbs. The dishonest asshole that owns the Woodscape Apartments still hasn’t repaired a collapsed brick wall at the front of his property. It’s been that way for months, but he doesn’t care. And that’s just one of them! I can drive around and point to class D apartment after class D apartment with broken fences, busted windows, mold and fungus on the walls…. I’m done with being frustrated by these things. I’m done with wishing I could somehow convince the dishonest asshole slum lords to actually fix their fucking properties!
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    So, I guess I’m saying, you and your dishonest asshole clients win, Niche. Bravo.

  • ZAW: Why isn’t there an economic advantage to fixing a falling down wall? Doesn’t that cause a down unit for the owner? If so, he’s missing out on $500/month because he doesn’t want to pay $2,500 to fix it. That’s just poor business. He shouldn’t fix it because he’s a nice guy, he should fix it because doing so is the right (economically) thing to do.
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    Even if it doesn’t cause a down unit, does it cause his rents to be less than they could if the wall was fixed? I mean, maybe he could get $525/month from the other units rather than $500 if the overall look of the building was better (i.e, no falling down walls). Or he can charge the same but get a better tenant (one that cares about such things, and will be more likley to pay rent). If that’s the case, leaving the wall like that is a poor economic decision as well.
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    Or, it could be the tenants don’t really care. Any improvements won’t be reflected in increased income. The area doesn’t justify it for whatever reason. If that’s the case, then what would be his incentive to fix it? If the tenants don’t care, then fixing it is just a cost shouldered by people that would rather not shoulder it. If the only reason to fix something is out of some effort to be noble, then it’s not going to happen. That’s a larger issue that effects much more than apartments. I’m not trying to say that’s right. I’m trying to say that’s reality.
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    Or, could it be the city isn’t giving him a red tag because of where the property is? Maybe if the prius patrol would stop giving tickets in ‘easy’ areas (where they know they can collect. Where the 311 warriors are the loudest and have the most pull), then some of these other areas would be fixed. But why would the prius patrol venture out there when they can fill their quota in 10 minutes by diving around midtown/montrose where I bevelie they’re told to focus due to political presures.

  • CONDEMMENED PROPERTY: I was at an association meeting last Thursday for the Lynbrook Condominiums directly across the street from Oaks of Brittany. I noticed this boarded up property for the first time and did a Google search to find out information on what’s going on. I found nothing but this message thread, which is all speculation.

    At the meeting, I asked a board member if she knew what was going on with this boarded up property. She said matter of factly that the property was condemned. They were hoping it would be torn down for a new development project, but she said instead it was bought and will be completely redone/refurbished (whatever you want to call it). I consider that good news and so did she.

  • That is good news, Michael. Thanks for the update. Any idea who bought it?
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    We had a similar property in my area: 7500 Bissonnet, that was bought by a developer who was planning to do a total gut renovation. They got into it, and realized that it made more sense to bulldoze it and do a totally new complex on the site. The result is a ULI award nominated apartment complex. It was a welcome surprise for everyone.

  • @ ZAW: Sorry, I lost track of this post.

    I think that you and I have different definitions of the word “dishonest”. Being greedy or an asshole or a greedy asshole is one thing (actually, its three different things) but being dishonest is a whole different category of scumbag. By contrast, any of these descriptors falls under the “scumbag” umbrella.

    I won’t take offense if you consider me a scumbag. I had a job to do at the time, really needed that job, and I performed it competently. If I didn’t do it (and I’m not, presently) then somebody else would do it. I look at the existing housing stock through a similar lens. Its not going away. Its not realistic for the private sector investors to expect any sweeping changes in public policy that would enable it to go away. The poor people that can’t afford anything better, they’re also not going away. You can displace them and make them into some other neighborhood’s problem by fixing up the housing stock and catering to a better-off demographic, but you aren’t addressing the underlying problem, which is that they people that were living there remain desperately poor.

    And actually, somebody that pretends that that’s possible and that they have a public interest at heart…that’s the sort of thing that an asshole might do. That’s the sort of thing that a dishonest asshole would do. And then picking up their family and segregating themselves from that population, that’s a very self-interested activity. Some might call it greedy. By definition, that would make such a person a scumbag.

  • We disagree on a lot more than the definition of the word “dishonest,” Niche. Your view is that we’ll always have substandard housing, so why shouldn’t people make a fast buck off it? After all, if you don’t, as you said, someone else will..

    I, by contrast, don’t think we should resign ourselves to the inevitability of substandard housing. Call me an idealist for having that belief. Call me whatever you want (racist, classist, hypocrite, and now scumbag are already done, Niche, got any more?). I’ll confess to a little laziness. I am, after all, leaving for Sugar Land rather than staying to fight you and your clients.

  • Quit it with the straw men and the baseless ad hominems.

    My view is that housing is an asset and that assets need to be owned and operated in a financially sustainable manner by an operator that is interested in having it be occupied, that profit is a good motive to keep it occupied and can be a motive to maintain or improve the quality of the asset, and that they’re best off playing by the rules but taking the political situation as an exogenous factor.

    My opinion on public policy (which doesn’t matter even one iota) is that health and safety inspections need to be conducted on multifamily projects over four units in size on a mandatory basis at regular intervals by a Federal or State agency that is disinterested in local politics or local codes or planning policy, with large fines for non-compliance with orders, and that all other efforts should be directed at improving the economic prospects of the people that live there — because if poor people can afford to demand better housing, by and large they will actually go out and do so and will quit being the proximate cause of urban blight. The exceptions are issues where mental health or disability are a concern, and that needs to be handled separately.

    Insofar as rental housing is safe, consumers should have a choice regarding their consumption priorities; and you should respect the values and priorities of other people because you should be averse to somebody that does not respect your own values and priorities. Its an issue of fair play.

  • The CoH issued a “PERMIT TO SECURE A VACANT BUILDING EXP 2/3/2016” on 2/4/15 for buildings C, E, H, N, R, and P (http://www.houstonpermittingcenter.org/). But oddly, back in July 2014, they issued a permit for a roof remodel for building A, and in April of 2013, they issued a bunch of permits for various exterior repairs for buildings B, D, E, F, H, I and O. No demo permit yet, but at least they’ve got a permit to have a vacant building, as long as they secure it properly. Well, they’ve got permits for *some* of the vacant buildings.

  • You’re accusing me of baseless accusations, Niche?
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    For what it’s worth, I agree with you that we need periodic inspections of rensidtial rental units. I’ve wanted this all along. It’d be better for everyone – landlords, tenants, and neighbors – than the current complaint based system. I’m not sure how you could expect the State of Texas to do them when they can’t even inspect their own office buildings in Austin, much less bridges – but I could see the Feds doing it, at least for housing that accepts Housing Choice Vouchers.
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    In any case, buildings like the Oaks of Brittany Apartments will always piss me off.

  • Hi Michael and GoogleMaster.

    Thanks for the info. Any word on timeline? I recently moved into the area and Oaks has been sitting in this shoddy state since ive been there (November)…It would be nice to know that a solution is on the way.

  • We live in the neighborhood nearby the apartments and there was a fire at the complex last night, thursday 4/30, around 10:30pm. Don’t know how bad the damage was…they’re still standing at least. Seems a little fishy…

  • Is the fire damage on the Wilcrest side? I have not seen much evidence of a fire from Lakeside Estates Dr.

  • I don’t think there was much fire damage. My husband drove by the apartments today and saw dumpsters filled with trash and drywall, along with a few work trucks outside. Does anyone know if the apartments are actually getting renovated?? I wish they would just knock them down.

  • supposedly the apartments were just purchased (again) by Varden Capital Properties..?? and, supposedly they will try to renovate, rather than knock down. :(

  • Hi Hou54. Any idea as to the timing?