HOW THE CITY SKIPPED OUT ON A SUNNYSIDE APARTMENT COMPLEX FOR THE PAST 9 YEARS
How does a 24-unit apartment building — one of those 1,000-plus Houston complexes the University of Texas School of Law’s recent study identifies as missing a Certificate of Occupancy — go nearly a decade without having the document? In 2012, public works inspected the Bellfort Townhomes on Bellfort St. between Cullen and Scott and called it a “ material risk to the physical safety or health of the building’s tenants.” The building’s owner told an inspector that he’d apply for a Certificate — granted after landlords bring their buildings into compliance with city code — when the city contacted him the next year. But then, public works simply lost track of things. For 3 years starting in 2014, the department had no contact with 4410 Bellfort until it came time for the building’s next inspection last January — which resulted in the same findings as the previous one. Why the lapse? “According to the head of Houston’s Multi-Family Habitability Division, after the Division identified properties without a Certificate in the first round of inspections, the Division’s practice was to ,” write researchers Heather K. Way and Carol Fraser, “ close the property’s inspection file as long as the owner submitted an application for a Certificate of Occupancy even if the owner never successfully obtained the Certificate.” At least one group made sure to stay in touch with the city, though: “During this three-year period, tenants and nearby residents called 311 at least eight times to report sewage overflow issues at the property.” [ UT School of Law Entrepreneurship and Community Clinic; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Bellfort Townhomes:
SUNNYSIDE PASSED OVER FOR LIST OF HOUSTON PLACES THAT ALWAYS GET PASSED OVER The Texas Low Income Housing Information Service released a statement right after Mayor Turner’s Monday announcement on the Complete Communities program questioning why Sunnyside didn’t make the cut, Steve Jansen reports this week for the Houston Press. Despite the neighborhood’s oft-heralded blight resume (it made the LARA team during Mayor White’s time in office, and even got rolled into its very own tax increment reinvestment zone last year, a distinction theoretically reserved for “unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted” areas), Sunnyside didn’t make the list of the first 5 pilot neighborhoods for the new program, which so far looks like it might shuffle existing development money toward the targeted areas without adding any new cash. The statement, coauthored by a Sunnyside-area civic association leader, notes that the neighborhood even has a . [Houston Press; ready-to-go redevelopment plan that’s been in the work for the past few years previously on Swamplot] Map of pilot areas for Complete Communities program: City of Houston
And this one seems almost preordained by the stars: Aries Motel, the last of the City of Houston’s “dirty half-dozen,” those multi-family/commercial buildings so blighted not even Mayor Parker can love them, has been tagged to go down today. The Gladstone St. motel sits on 10,000-sq.-ft. lot in Sunnyside, just west of Scott and north of Bellfort.
On a stretch of track near his company’s offices on Long Dr. in Golfcrest, along Holmes Rd. at Scott St., Snapstream founder and CEO Rakesh Agrawal catches this rail-riding machine in action, yanking and replacing railroad ties underneath itself.