ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene’s Board of Building Standards has voted to demolish the Claystone apartments located on North Mockingbird and the Briarwood Apartments on North 3rd Street. Before voting, the board heard from Ricky Wright, the city’s property maintenance inspector, as well as a handful of concerned residents who live near the properties.

“Staff recommendation on this is the property is a public nuisance in that it is a hazard to the public health, safety, and welfare, and repair of the structure would be unreasonable,” Wright said to the board.

The board adopted the same statement for both properties. Wright inspected both properties and found that they were beyond repair and posed health, safety, and security risks to any potential residents in the future. It was also noted that the properties have also been inhabited by homeless individuals. In one of the buildings, evidence of a fire being started was found.

“I think we need to be honest about what it is. It’s a slum,” said neighborhood resident Sam Hatton.

“Over time, it just got worse and worse that gate’s open. People in and out,” neighborhood resident Sammy Garcia remarked.

“We have Abilene High School right down the street. I’m afraid that our children are in danger,” said neighborhood resident Billy Enriquez.

According to Hatton, during his time with various local non-profit organizations, he had the chance to make use of one of the properties in question for residential purposes. However, the offer was rejected, claiming that the living conditions were not suitable.

“When we were given the opportunity for one of these two buildings, we turned them down. Because the conditions the people were living in were better than if they were to go to these facilities,” Hatton said.

The city has been in touch with Abilene Apartments LLC, the owner of the properties, multiple times. The timeline indicates that the owner was given several opportunities to clean up and repair the buildings, but they failed to comply. As a result, the owner owes $13,118 in abetment fees for the Briarwood property, which, if left unpaid, will be recorded as a lien against the property by the city.

Though they have been in contact, Wright said the corporate structure of Abilene Apartments LLC is a mystery as they cannot find anyone who will admit to ownership.

“I’ve only spoken with one (person), and then there’s another gentleman that has identified himself as an employee of the contractor that’s gonna do the work here. However, it’s been brought to our attention that he is possibly an owner who doesn’t want to admit he’s an owner. But we honestly do not have any idea how many people are in this organization,” Hatton told the board.

At the Wednesday board meeting, a representative from Lamar National Bank informed that they are pursuing foreclosure on the Claystone property, on which they are listed as the lienholder.

Wright shared that in recent communications, the owner has expressed the desire to demolish the Briarwood property and construct a new complex, as well as a desire to continue repairs on the Claystone property. However, no plan of action or timeline has ever been submitted on either.

“The date seems to move a month at a time every time, and nothing gets done,” Wright said.

Demolition of the properties will move forward, though the owner has 30 days to either demolish the properties themself or file an appeal with the district court.

Below is a full timeline of events for both properties as provided by the City Property inspector during Wednesday’s Board of Building Standards meeting. That meeting can be viewed in full at this link.

Timeline of events – Briarwood

(Taken from Wednesday’s presentation)

  • February 7, 2021 – Multiple structure fire due to arson. Only one structure remaining and inhabited.
  • April 29, 2021 – Attempted to get property owner to clean up remainder of fire debris and remove remaining concrete building slabs.
  • June 9, 2021 – Issued citation to property owner for failure to abate property.
  • July 21, 2023 – City cleaned property. Concrete slabs, as well as some heavy concrete debris, remain on the lot.
  • February 2023 – Complaint received from a tenant for no water for several weeks. The city started to engage with the owners about water and building conditions.
  • March 2023 – Water still not on for tenants. Only two occupied units in the building.
  • March 29, 2023 – Units no longer occupied. Affidavit of condemnation recorded at county clerk.
  • May 17, 2023 – The City secured all doors and broken/open windows. The city abated high grass and weeds. Re-engaged with building owners. They were upset that the city began taking action.
  • June 6, 2023 – City made several attempts to contact owners. City met with lienholder, CEO of Lamar National Bank. Bank leadership got a firsthand look at the property. They let us know they are taking action to help with the situation.
  • June 8, 2023 – Notice of hearing was posted on the structure.
  • June 14, 2023 – Notice of hearing was sent to the LLC, LLC registered agent, and lienholder addresses.
  • July 5, 2023 – Board ordered 30-60.
  • July, 2023- Last conversation Code had with one of the owners, he told us they were most likely going to demolish the remaining building and build a whole new complex. He didn’t give a timeframe and wasn’t completely sure what their plan was. He said it was suggested to them, by a contractor they hired, to demo the building. We have had no further discussion with him regarding this complex. This property was abated by one of our City contractors. The property was completely cleaned up of all trash and debris. The high grass and weeds were also mowed and removed. There was one tree removed due to it being a traffic hazard, and another tree had to be trimmed up above the street. We also had a different contractor board up all doors and the majority of all
    the windows.
  • September 13, 2023 – To date, no asbestos survey or asbestos abatement completed. No plan of action submitted. No permit applied for.
  • September 25, 2023 – No city liens have been recorded as of today, however, $13,118 is owed for city abatements, which will be recorded as liens if they remain unpaid.

Timeline of events – Claystone

(Taken from Wednesday’s presentation)

  • January 18, 2019 – Building Inspections investigation opened for deteriorated
  • November 17, 2020 – Building Inspection investigation for unsafe
    stairs/balconies – not resolved; case is still open
  • February 10, 2022 – Received citizen complaint for rats, trash, dilapidated
    structure and fence. Initial code compliance case opened at this time. Notice was sent to property owner.
  • April 4, 2022 – Made contact with property manager; they stated they are
    working on evicting tenants
  • August 15, 2022 – Contractor applied for plumbing permit to install new fixtures
    in 44 units. Permit was never paid for.
  • November 2, 2022 – Water Department posted notices all around complex
    informing residents that due to non-payment for water, services will be
    terminated on November 7, 2022.
  • November 3, 2022 – While performing an inspection, APD arrived due to vagrants
    on the property smashing walls inside an apartment and stealing copper. Found many vacant apartments that were not secured. Posted condemnation signs around the complex.
  • November 9, 2022 – Affidavit of condemnation recorded at County Clerk.
  • January 10, 2023 – Sent initial notice of condemnation and 30/60 letter to
    property owner.
  • January 11, 2023 – Sent notice of February Board hearing to the property owner.
  • January 17, 2023 – Property owner/manager completed securement of open
  • January 24, 2023 – Notice of February hearing and Notice of Condemnation
    sent to the lienholder.
  • March 2, 2023 – Board ordered 30-60.
  • March 24, 2023 – Alteration permit applied for.
  • June 21, 2023 – Issued alteration permit.
  • July 2023 – Told by contractor the asbestos abatement was completed.
  • August 1, 2023 – Spoke with contractor who is supposed to start the remodel,
    and he stated he wouldn’t be starting the project until he is paid. He told me he would let me know when he would be sending his guys to begin the work.
  • September 7, 2023- No work has begun on this complex since the asbestos abatement was completed. The company began the project in March, then left for non-payment in April. They didn’t
    return until July to finish the abatement in the last two buildings.
  • September 8, 2023 – Two phone calls from nearby residents complaining of rats coming from the apartment complex, making their
    way to their homes across the alley.
  • September 13, 2023 – Contacted state asbestos inspector to verify
    survey and abatement was fully completed on all buildings at the
    property. Alteration permit is set to expire, as of today, on February
    14, 2024.
  • September 13, 2023 – Additional citizen complaint received for this
    property. Advised that they attend BOBS hearing.