Residents forced to move out for Walmart build

November 4, 2010 3:56:54 PM PDT
Residents of an apartment complex in the Heights are being told find a new place to call home. It's a side effect of plans to redevelop the area as Walmart gets ready to move in. The residents of the Heights Plaza Apartments are being told when their leases are up, it will be time to pack up and leave. But for some residents who have lived there for years, making the necessary arrangements is not so easy.

The Heights Plaza Apartments may not stand out to many, but to Celia Ochoa and her beloved cats, it's been home for three decades.

"No robbers, and the Heights area is very good for living," Ochoa said.

On Wednesday, Ochoa and other residents were surprised to find letters on their doors telling them that the complex has been purchased by Ainbinder, the company developing the Walmart shopping center across the street, and that no one's leases will be renewed.

"It makes me feel angry there's no way you can pay your rent and then go find another place and go pay your rent over there; you can't do that," said Alicia Hernandez.

Her lease doesn't run out for three months, but there are residents who only have 30 days to move.

"What about the people whose leases are up this month? Now they have to move," Hernandez said.

Although the sale of the complex to the Walmart developer wasn't a surprise, the pace of the move out did catch some residents off guard. Developer Michael Ainbinder says he's willing to work with residents who can't find a place before their lease expires.

And not everyone in the neighborhood is against the idea that something new is moving in.

"I like the idea of Houston continuing to build and bring money to the city, whereas it seems like there are so many places around the country right now that are not making money and not building and things are not getting any better," said Rodney Thompson.

The developer says it will not hold anyone to its leases and if people want to move out sooner; they can do that.

The last lease runs out at the end of April, and the developer says as soon as that happens, they will begin demolishing the property.


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