City councilman, builder spar over South Union development

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, April 29, 2016
City councilman, developer spar over new development
A trendy new housing development is causing headaches for South Union residents.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A Houston city councilman caught on tape cursing at a builder in southeast Houston says he has no regrets.

District D council member Dwight Boykins was recorded unleashing a barrage of expletives during a confrontation with Sean Krieger. Krieger gave Eyewitness News the audio recording. He is building his second duplex on Lehall Street using shipping containers.

It's a new housing trend and Boykins takes issue with it.

"You know what you're doing. It's (expletive), man," said Boykins on the recording. "You're gentrifying this (expletive) neighborhood and you know it's (expletive). You know it. I grew up over here. It's (expletive) what you're doing, man." Boykins continued.

Lehall is in the South Union neighborhood near Scott -- a historically African-American community. Krieger, who plans to build 20-40 homes in the area using steel containers, says they will be good for the neighborhood, providing affordable housing. However, he's been met with grief.

"We are being targeted," Krieger said, adding, police, inspectors and parking officials have visited the site multiple times since building began in February. "It's been problem after problem with the city."

One neighbor tells Eyewitness News it's Kriger who's the problem. She has called either the city or police 200 times complaining about construction crews blocking driveways, hitting water lines and causing power outages.

Boykins says he told Krieger to take his concept to community meetings before construction to find common ground but didn't. Boykins maintains he's just defending his constituents.

"This cat here came to City Hall and just totally disrespected the process and I'm not going to allow that in my community," Boykins said.

Krieger is asking for an apology. Meantime, one of his investors, Avi Ron, apologized for any inconvenience construction has caused.

"We don't want to be bad neighbors, we want to be good neighbors," Ron said.