Developer: Abandoned Dallas apartments will come down

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on March 27, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 10:28 AM

Shuttered Apartments Slated for Demolition

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DALLAS — After years of delays, the owners of a pair of shuttered apartment complexes promise the aging buildings will soon be torn down. Since the apartments were emptied in 2008, neighbors have long complained about the fading buildings. 

“Empty complexes just make you nervous,” said Elizabeth Johnston, 25. She moved into a nearby condo in 2005 before the neighboring apartments were closed. 

“Who knows what’s going on in there?” she asked.

The owners, Prescott Realty, have planned for years to redevelop the site, but blamed the recession for stalling plans. Now, the company says the timing is right to begin construction. 

“The old buildings have not been demolished due to the economic downturn, but they will be demolished soon,” Vance Detwiler, Prescott Realty’s president, said in a statement to News 8. 

By June, the company hopes to begin demolition and construction of a new $45 million apartment complex with 370 apartments –– 100 more units than what is currently there. When the new four-story project opens in 2014, it will also connect with nearby trails and complement the developer’s nearby Lake Highlands Town Center currently under construction. 

“It was less expensive to leave them… pay the property taxes than it was for them to tear them down,” said the area’s former councilman Bill Blaydes, who fought for years to tear down trouble-prone apartments. “It’s starting to cause a lot of comment, no doubt about it, because they are in deplorable condition.”

The two complexes in the 6800 block of Skillman Street were built in the early 70s. Crime and neglect became a problem over the years, neighbors complain. Beyond the property fences, windows are open and holes are visible in the roof. 

The city says the owners have been responsive at addressing code violations. The area’s current Council member, Jerry Allen, said it would have been difficult to force demolition earlier. 

“Quite frankly, we could have maybe tried to force somebody's hand to tear them down, but there wasn't any money to do that,” Allen said. “You run the risk of putting somebody into bankruptcy. You can fine them… well, that just takes it out of the developer's pockets so you don't have as nice amenities going forward… It wasn't a perfect situation with the recession.”

Email jbetz@wfaa.com

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