The owner of a Hurst apartment complex with 700 code violations faces the threat of demolition this month and around 100 tenants face homelessness if the infractions are not corrected.
The Dakota Place Apartments are at 450 E. Hurst Boulevard (Texas Highway 10) near the Bell Helicopter Plant.
Owner Charles Mercer said Monday the city is treating him unfairly as he tries to provide affordable housing for low income tenants.
"We've been fighting with the city for years," Mercer said. "What we know we've fixed. But they find other things. Then it's another notice. It just counts as not being fixed."
Mercer said he has tried to make roof repairs.
"They would not give us a permit to fix the roof," Mercer said. "And a lady stayed out of her home, a 70-year-old woman, for a year and a half. All her stuff was in the room and they would not let her back in her room."
Tenant Oscar Pate said he likes Dakota Place and the owner and he hopes to keep living in his $700 a month one-bedroom apartment
"I've just known him for several years and I've been good," Pate said.
Tenant Cayla Corrigan was moving out of the complex Monday. Corrigan said she has made repairs on her own that the owner refused to make and suffered through other problems that were never repaired.
"The place has been a big issue and had a lot of problems for the 6 years that I've lived here, the mold, the pest control, the management not up to date," she said. "Today I'm gone. I'm gone. This is Dakota Place, the worst place you can possibly live."
Corrigan said she paid about $1000 a month for a 2-bedroom apartment.
"I came here long enough to save up, get my credit fixed, go to school and I'm gone," she said.
City of Hurst Assistant City Manager Malaika Marion Farmer issued a statement Monday:
"The City of Hurst has been working for several years to ensure that the residents of the Dakota Place Apartments have a safe and habitable place to live. Beginning in 2015, the City has received numerous complaints from Dakota residents as to the condition of the property. Those complaints have included, but are not limited to, sewage backups, leaking roofs, mold, and odors. On July 11, 2016, the owner was ordered to replace all of the roofs at this complex. The owner has steadfastly and consistently refused to undertake those repairs. Instead, the owner has most recently perpetuated illegal and unpermitted work on the roofs (while still not replacing any of them) without even applying for a building permit.
"In February of 2019 the City engaged three different professional firms to assess the Dakota: Childress Engineering, Farmer Environmental Group, and Bureau Veritas. Childress confirmed that the roofs on all four buildings were near the end of their serviceable life and that the building 2 roof contains a significant amount of trapped water and warrants an immediate reroof. As a result of these issues, the Hurst Fire Department has designated those roofs as unsafe and off-limits for Fire Department personnel.
"Farmer Environmental found odors atypical of a residential building, dirty HVAC vents and registers, microbial growth in various units, water damage in various units resulting in partial ceiling collapse, and substantial debris in the air.
"Bureau Veritas found violations in all units, exposed wiring, improper electrical junctions, infestation (including mold, roaches, gnats, and rodents), along with holes in balcony floors. The owner apparently hired an unlicensed contractor to make unpermitted and illegal repairs to the electrical system. When given the opportunity to apply for a retroactive Building Permit for both the roof and electrical work, the owner has failed or refused to do so.
"The City only seeks to enforce State Law and its Code of Ordinances which are designed to protect the life, health, property, safety, and welfare of the public. We would hope that responsible apartment owners would share that same goal, but when an owner insists on jeopardizing the safety of their tenants the City is left no choice but to act.
"On August 7, 2019, a notice was sent to property owner of 450 E. Hurst Boulevard declaring it as substandard as described in Chapter 5, Article VII, Section 5-295, of the City of Hurst Code of Ordinances. A list of deficiencies was attached and an order was issued to repair and rehabilitate all of the required improvements on the referenced property. The notice granted 15 days to apply for permits to repair and rehabilitate the building and 90 days to complete the work once the permits were issued. No permits of any kind have been applied for to date.
"On September 17, 2019, the City Attorney and City staff met with the property owner and his attorney to clearly explain the status and the owner's options. The owner was told he must apply for retroactive building permits for the illegal and unpermitted work. The owner was further told that he must provide reports from licensed and qualified professionals to certify the propriety of the illegal and unpermitted work.
"On September 24, 2019, the City of Hurst conducted a public hearing to consider ordering the repair, removal or demolition of the Dakota Place Apartments. At this hearing, the property owner was given his opportunity to be heard. The City Council ordered the property be repaired, removed, or demolished such that the property is in compliance no later than October 24, 2019.
"Last week staff and the city attorney again met with the property owner to discuss the order. To date, the owner has not made permit applications for the illegal and unpermitted work. Nor has the owner provided any reports from licensed qualified professionals as to the validity of the illegal and unpermitted work."