Snooping Around an Abandoned Apartment Complex in Inwood Forest

An intrepid Redditor recently explored the vacant Oakbrook Apartments and snuck away with these photos. The 222-unit complex, currently for sale, sits on 7.3 acres at 5353 De Soto St., east of Antoine and north of W. Tidwell, right up against White Oak Bayou. Writes the creative trespasser: “The majority of [the apartments] are unsecured at this point. There really didn’t seem to be much of anything left in any of the apartments, and I went in a lot of them. Most of the drywall is crumbling and you can smell the mildew from 20 yards away. Wiring and other appliances have been torn out in most of them.”


Apparently, the complex has been eyed for demolition for awhile: the Near Northwest Management District lists it — and 3 nearby complexes — as one site it would really like to see go away; the address has also popped up now and then in news reports since being abandoned in 2008; it’s very near a few other structures, Candlelight Trails and Candlewood Glen, that have been similarly shot.

Photos: Imgur user alexander9062

17 Comment

  • As long as complexes like the Oakbrook Apartments sit vacant and abandoned, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that Houston has a shortage of affordable housing and needs to build more. Abandoned complexes are a sign of surpluses; not shortages.

  • Why can’t they tear projects like this down to build mc.midrises?

  • ZAW makes a good point. In other (mostly northern) cities properties are continuously rehabilitated and repurposed. In Houston, properties are abandoned and demolished and the city sprawls out further from the center. I think that is a fundamental flaw in the mindset (and before anyone starts screaming – I know since I have remodeled properties considered tear downs in the Heights that have proven to be great investments). Granted, it takes guts and money and it may not be worth it to buy something like this, but there are other properties worth saving all over the Heights, Montrose, river oaks, and 6th ward. Every time I see an abandoned property in the those neighborhoods it makes my head spin.

  • Nothing but a bunch of animals.

  • I know this deal. It had an affordability component (subsidized housing) in the Land Use Restriction Agreement (LURA). It sold cheap because the area has poor fundamentals – no rent rate growth, high vacancies, bad debt collection problems and it was not in a good location. The Candlelight Condos went bad first and then brought this deal down with it, but that is secondary to the real culprit in my mind which is the operator. They were highly leveraged and in a non-recourse loan and had other bad Apartment investments made in similar areas. So together, with the declining area, poor market fundamentals in 2008, negligent operator with no accountability to the lender – it caved. Please keep in mind that this property was rehabbed prior to the change of ownership in 2005. Rental property gets beat to hell and after a while – the returns to the investor do not come especially if operations are not dialed in…pouring money in to bad areas will ultimately catch up…this is not the Heights, or Montrose so the fundamentals are much different; so therefore you can’t change the submarket.

  • Yes, the debt-pressed owners of complexes in this neighborhood relaxed tenant standards to get occupancies up – not realizing that meant you drive off moderate-income tenants who actually pay their rent and replace them with those who pay late, if at all, and beat the place up to boot.

  • I lived in Inwood Forest in the 1980’s until 1998 and I remember when that are of Desoto was a thriving street. I kenw people that lived in apartments there and loved it. The real estate and oil collapse in the 80’s started the downturn in that area along Antoine. It is really sad.

  • Sorry about the spelling in the previous post.

  • All the problems described by this person are descriptions that applied well before the owners were forced to close. They were the closest thing to a favela Houston has, except the people made no attempt to work or improve their lot. The whole area was a joke.

  • urban paintball war zone.

  • I love all the real estate experts on this site. If you want to blame someone for this blame the city. City limits the amount of renovations that can be done on properties in a flood zone.

  • I’m not sure if flood zone issues applied to this property. However, I am sure that the same market demand problems that applied to non-flood properties in this part of town also applied to this one.

  • If you are a “Local Planner” you would know that the city does not allow improvements which exceed 50% of the market value of the structure. Currently HCAD has the property appraised at 1,057,908. That means you could not spend more than $528,954 or $2,382 per unit in renovations. That doesn’t work.

    Just curious what is the Vacancy Rate in this sub-market?

  • I ride my bike on the trail right by there. Be careful poking around there – I think one of the units has active squatters (more power to them, I say, better than sleeping under the highway) and I may have seen something resembling the exchange of illegal items oing on in the parking areas. Tend to ride my bike very quickly past there.

  • Why would anyone, intrepid or otherwise, venture in here. The dangers are many and varied. What’s the point?

  • What I meant was that I don’t know that that particular site was actually within a flood zone. There have already been a number of areas bought out by FEMA nearby, if this site was also similarly subject to flooding as the other areas, I’m sure the community would have pushed to get it also bought out by FEMA or pursued through a similar path by the City. Instead the City has been examining other ways to have the property essentially condemned and demolished.

    Occupancy figures in the area were generally not very good, at least the last time I did work over there. The stats were somewhat skewed however by properties receiving $ from HUD (through the City) that were doing renovations and upgrades, so therefore couldn’t rent out sections of their units.

    Attracting tenants willing to pay higher rents post-renovation (higher than $0.90/sq.ft.) is a challenge but seemed to be making some headway around a year ago. Still, those who can afford those kinds of rents have a choice on where to live, and getting them to consider DeSoto / Hollyview is a challenge given the history. I will say that those two streets are no longer the worst in the area – that honor goes to the properties along Tidwell west of Antoine.

  • These apartments are NOT in Inwood Forest. Please check your facts before you write an article.