Residents fear collapse of abandoned homes

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A group of patio homes that are in danger of falling down has neighbors worried, and city officials taking a closer look.

The property located at 616 W. Pierce Street is in the middle of Houston's thriving Montrose neighborhood, yet the top floors of the three-story homes have caved in.

"It's an eyesore for the neighborhood," said neighbor Marrietta Schmid, who walks by the falling property every day. "Please, city of Houston, help us."

Although the property is on the department of neighborhood's radar, very little action has been shown.

On Tuesday, ABC13 witnessed city inspectors write up a report while police checked for squatters.

"Ultimately, we want them to fix the situation, whether they repair it or tear it down. Something has to be done, because it's an eyesore and it's not safe," said Houston Police Department Sgt. Chad Wall.

Unfortunately, city workers cannot tear down private property without a court order.

"I can't tear anything down," said Sgt. Wall. "It has to go through court paperwork, and they have to be listed as a dangerous building."

Sam Bethancourt, who lives next door, says the property has gotten worse with each passing hurricane season. Most recently, portions of the building fell in their driveway after Tropical Storm Imelda.

"We can get roof damage, it can also bring down the value of our home," Bethancourt said. "It's not great."

The Bethancourts have communicated extensively with the owner of the property Alan Paull. Each time, they have promised that reconstruction will start soon.

The Paulls' company, Paull and Partners, is represented by attorney Miles Cohn.

Cohn explained in an email the situation regarding the property:

The builder filed a lawsuit that held up foreclosure on this and a number of other properties for almost two years, without protecting or completing a number of homes. Due to the injunction, Paull & Partners was not allowed to foreclose, to take possession or do anything else with respect to the properties at issue in the lawsuit.

We filed repeated motions to lift the foreclosure injunction, and ultimately we were successful. Paull & Partners has since foreclosed on this and other properties involved in the lawsuit. With the hard-working assistance of a number of real estate and loan professionals, Paull & Partners is in the process of negotiating refinancing and developing budgets and construction contracts to complete the foreclosed properties. We expect the financing to close and the work to begin within 60 days, if not sooner.

Cohn also told ABC13 the injunction was lifted in 2018, meaning no work has been done on the property in over a year.

In addition, a search of public records show Paull & Partners as owners of dozens of properties, and are defendants in several ongoing lawsuits.

For Bethancourt, it all sounds too familiar.

"We've gotten into direct contact with the owners of the property and they always tell us it's going to be resolved by some date, and that date comes, and nothing happens," he said.

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