Friday, September 21, 2007

City threatens to shut down Lakeview Apts.

By Barrett Goldsmith Baytown Sun
Published September 21, 2007

Residents of the Lakeview Terrace apartment complex on Northwood could be forced to relocate next week because of delinquent utility bills by the owners of the property, Baytown city manager Garry Brumback said Thursday.

The owners of the property, ISH and Company based in Montreal, currently owe the city nearly $62,000. The city notified the leasing agent for the property Sept. 4 that the complex owed $31,614, and did not receive payment. The complex is now delinquent on its current bills of about $26,000, and has been assessed a late fee of about $4,000.

If the owners or the leasing agent fail to pay the amount in full, water to the complex will be cut off Tuesday. After that point, the apartments will be declared inhospitable and residents will have 24 hours to leave their apartments. The water service will not be restored until payment is received.

“The property owner is packing up and has no intentions of paying anything,” Brumback said. “We don’t want to punish the occupants, but we’re going to continue to move forward on the bad behavior.”

The city has been aggressively moving on the Lakeview Terrace apartments over the past few weeks after an inspection Sept. 5 showed the uninhabited portion in the back crumbling and in a state of abject neglect. The complex was cited for a series of health violations that have been partially addressed, but city officials believe the deeper problems at the complex will require more forceful action.

On Oct. 1, the city will go before the Urban Rehabilitation Standards Review Board to recommend demolishing the abandoned part of the building. If the board accepts the recommendation, Brumback said the city would demolish the property and place a lien for the cost on the ownership.

“In my mind, this is a reflection of bad property management and bad property ownership,” Brumback said. “This is just one other example of what we’re not looking for in this city.”

The Baytown Police Department has also been part of the effort to clean up the apartment and others around and along Northwood. The area has been ground zero for violence and illegal drugs in Baytown for months, and police have stationed officers there on a regular basis to curb the rampant crime.

Door hangers were placed on apartments throughout the complex Thursday, informing residents of the possible fate of their homes.

The city is recommending that residents who could be displaced by the water cutoff contact one of the social service and housing agencies in the area, including the Baytown Housing Authority, the Associated Catholic Charities, the Houston Housing Authority, the Pasadena Housing Authority, Bay Area Homeless Services, the Texas Department of Human Services or Harris County Community Development and Social Services.

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