Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Wood Ridge owner faces officials, concerned citizens

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Time is up for the owners of the Wood Ridge Apartments to make necessary repairs to the complex.

Wednesday, Wood Ridge Owner David Andrews faced the Buildings Standards Commission. He told commissioners he’s done all he could to bring the apartments up to code, but he just doesn’t have the money to continue.

In May, a second story walkway collapsed, forcing dozens of people out of their homes. The apartment owners had 75 days to make repairs before facing municipal fines.

According to city officials, 30 Code Compliance officers inspected the complex’s 15 buildings—134 units—in June. They issued 726 new violations for a range of problems including electrical, plumbing and structural issues, to bed bugs. Code Compliance has 109 open cases under investigation.

In the meeting, concerned citizen Ruby Roa addressed Andews saying, “Now I know the face of the man who neglected this apartment complex.” She continued, “Would you allow your child or grandchild to live beneath those balconies? Would you?”

Officials say Andrews needs about $600,000 to complete the project, but money is not there.

“We wish we had the $500,000 to $2 million to fix it, but we don’t,” he said.

Officials say Asset Plus Management, the company that manages the Wood Ridge complex, is using revenue from current residents to address some of the violations, but has yet to start work on the walkways.

"What we've been told by the management company and the contractor is that they've prepared a plan of action to repair the walkways,” Ron Potts with City of Austin Code Compliance said. “They've not pulled permits because to pull permits they'd have to have money to go forward."

Andrews said he was sorry and said he has intentions of selling the property.

If Andrews does find a buyer for the Wood Ridge complex, that person would inherit the fines. The new owner will face a fine of $1,000 per week until they start on the major improvements.

Austin Code Compliance officials say the penalties stay with the property, not with the owner.

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