Knocking Down the Gables of Inwood

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.

Photo: 39 Online

8 Comment

  • After the city demolishes these type of properties, does the current owner retain ownership?

  • He would retain ownership of the land. However I would imagine the city could file a lien against that for the cost of the demo. Given that the market value of the land is $495k per HCAD that wouldn’t leave him a lot left.

  • Why is it so hard to haul these deadbeats to jail? I guess being an absentee slumlord is more of an act of omission rather than a deliberate, direct crime.

    There are 2 vacant houses on my street that repeatedly get violations and are home to varmints and bums, and the owner lives in a >$2 million home in Tanglewood. Seems like the threat of jail time would be a bigger stick than a property lien and unresolvable warrants.

  • This can’t be the city’s firt time doing this. I wonder if they retain the land if they sit on it very long?

    I’m assuming what will replace these distressed properties are simply more apartments, wouldn’t you think?

  • # Superdave,

    Don’t give up the fight. Have the folks who live around the houses to continue complaining to neighborhood protection. Keep records and take pictures. These deadbeat owners can be made to either maintain their property or tear it down.

    Your neighborhood civic association can play a big role. We currently have a slum lord apartment owner in our ‘hood who is about to be in the same situation as the gables. Neighborhood Protection is working with us. They’ll work with you too.

  • I remember the building next to the Savoy costing $400K to demo. Is that the going rate for all demos regardless or size, location, and complexity? If so, sign me up. :)

  • Totally agree with SuperDave.

    Why are these slumlords able to continue living in a luxury lifestyle while everyone else has to suffer because of their greed or laziness? If you don’t want to keep up with the property that you own, sell it or forfeit it!

  • “Houston’s top scofflaw, having racked up more than 700 building-code violations”
    pffft! 700? I call that a slow Wednesday. :) (jk)
    But seirously, if you guys don’t want slums and empty buildings around you, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. And by ‘do something’ I don’t mean cry to the city and calling 311.
    The city is, most of the time, the ones causing the problem. Talk to someone that tries to buy these buildings and make them nice. Ask about the crap they have to go though. Getting the city involved makes things WORSE. I’ve made similar comments before (spurred by real life experiences). The city has good intentions, no doubt, and most are good people. However, their good intentions often conflict with the desired OUTCOME which is making the city better/safer.
    Example: there is old 1940s fourplex in Montrose that’s been vacant for 10 years. It’s next to my own home and some of my rental properties. It’s been spray painted, had garbaged dumped on it, has been boarded up to keep vagrants out, etc. People have called 311 to complain. Basically everyone hates the property, but making a building nice takes work, risk, and capital. Not calls 311 from your home office.
    So I bought it last week and went right to work to fix it up. IMMEDIATELY I got a red ‘stop work’ tag. All I had done is start the cleaning up (removing couches and beds left in the back yard, removing the old doors and replacing them with ones that lock, painting over the graffiti, clearing out all the garbage inside, etc.).
    The tag says “get permits” before doing any work. Permits for what? I haven’t started any “permit” type work yet. But to be a ‘good citizen’ I sent one of my guys to the permit office, twice. He spent several hours there, twice (keep in mind I’m paying him, and when he’s there, he isn’t working to make these slums people complain about better). Finally he was told there was some ‘hold’ order on the property and we couldn’t get the permit. They’d have to contact archives downtown and we’d have to wait a week. Ironically it’s my understanding (from making multiple calls) that it’s an old order from the building being unsecured. Ironic because the first work I was trying to do is replace doors/windows to make the place secure.
    Did you read that? No permit can be issued till the property is secure. However, no work can be done (including making it secure) till a permit is issued.
    Who knows what I’m looking at having to do before I can turn this place around. A better question is how many other people out there would WANT to fix up bad properties but are scared to death by the city? You can now count me in that group. This is the last time. Someone else can get kicked in the face by the city for trying to make a bad place nice. Next time I’ll be an armchair 311 warrior like so many others.