People told to leave decaying complex

Residents back move but unsure where to go
repairs may take year

braden power concerned condition of complex is dangerous

the dallas morning news

August 1995

Charles Ornstein Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News


Residents of the Lakewood Apartments, who have complained about poor living conditions at the East Dallas complex, have been given 30 days to move out so a local developer can remodel the building.
Tenants said Thursday night that a notice was posted on the manager's door alerting them of the complex's future and their need to find new homes. It stated that electricity for the complex would be turned off Sept. 2.

Developer Braden Power, who says he will purchase the property this month, said the 45 unit
complex is too dangerous to live in now. The facility is under a demolition order by the city that could be lifted if the city approves Mr. Power's plans.

"I'm not about displacing people," said Mr. Power, 26. "This place, as you can see from all the violations, has become a hazard . . . for people who are living in there and a hazard for the neighborhood, and something has to be done about it."

Residents this week complained about conditions at the complex that included raw sewage in their
apartments, broken faucets and roaches. They said they expected Thursday's news and supported the
demolition order. But some said they have no idea where they will go.

"We don't know where we're going to go right now," said Tony Boudreaux, who has a 3foot
hole in his ceiling.

"It's going to be a problem for us to find some place to live."

Linda Hersi, who has lived at Lakewood for four years, said the complex is just not livable.

"I think that they should condemn them," Ms. Hersi said. "The place is beginning to fall apart around you, right before your very eyes. Things are really going bad."

Mr. Power said tenants could reapply to live in the remodeled complex, which is expected to take a year to
renovate. The interiors of all the apartments will be gutted; and new plumbing, heating and cooling systems will be added. He said he expects the monthly rent at the new facility to be comparable to what tenants pay now about $500.

Aquila Allen, administrator for the city's Urban Standards Rehabilitation Board, which decides demolition
cases, said she is optimistic about Mr. Power's plan to turn the property around.

"Based on what we've seen . . . we feel he could do the work," Ms. Allen said. "What I've seen, it's very

The board must lift the demolition order on the property for the sale to become final. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 15.

Mr. Power said he was approached by MPR Inc., the owners of the complex, to take over the property. He
said he will pay about $100,000 for the 45,000 square foot building, and he will spend $1 million to renovate it.

Kip Riser, one of the current owners, said MPR decided to sell the complex because it was too expensive to
keep up. This week he acknowledged the problems at the complex but said some were caused by tenants.
MPR's attorney, Tom Keen, said his clients have tried to maintain the property.

"They've come to the conclusion that in its current form, it just takes too much money to keep it up and repair everything that breaks. It's an old complex," Mr. Keen said.

Mr. Power said he worries that if he does not act to renovate the complex, no one will.
"What would happen if I don't get this building and it is demolished?" he asked. "The city and Old East Dallas ends up with a gigantic lot of mud and then people start to dump their trash on it and the next thing you know you have a horrible eyesore."

Neighborhood groups support Mr. Power's initiative.

"We're really thrilled about the idea of investment on Gaston Avenue, particularly that property," said Johnny Spacek, chairman of the Historic Gaston Avenue Property Owners Association. "It's most encouraging that Mr. Power has a track record in Old East Dallas of taking older structures and turning them around and making them nice places to live."

Ms. Hersi, the Lakewood resident, said she has her doubts about what can be done with the complex.
"Personally, I don't think that he can do it, " she said. "I think this place is going to have to be torn down to the ground and start all over again. The only thing I can tell him is good luck."

Copyright 1995 The Dallas Morning News Company