The City's Going After a Vickery Meadow Apartment Complex It Claims Isn't SAFE At All

casaverde.jpg
The sprawling Casa Verde apartment complex doesn't look like anything much. It's a weathered collection of green buildings behind a long black fence that runs along a cracked street. Located on Fair Oaks, not far from Greenville and Park, it's tucked behind Today's Discount Food Mart, a taqueria and a beauty supply store.

At midday Friday, a mother with long brown hair in a loose bun was pushing her fussing child in a yellow stroller along the black asphalt of the parking lot. The mailman was slotting envelopes in the shade of one of the buildings as two kids ran by with a basketball. A lanky teenager in red basketball shorts stood in a doorway, wilting slightly sideways from the heat. It's on this slight battleground that the City Attorney's Office is waging a war.

Behind a white door in Casa Verde's main office, Asia Brazil puffed her cheeks out in frustration and shook her head. She's the complex's supervisor, a woman in her late 30s with glossy black curls and eyeliner that flared out into thick wings at the corners. She was frowning at her computer, scrolling through the details of a lawsuit the city has filed against Casa Verde's owners, a company called CCC&R Tres Arboles, LLC. "This is nothing new," Brazil said, with some heat, about the complaint that follows.

According to Brazil, the city is penalizing Casa Verde for being located in a troubled neighborhood. She said the complex's management has tried its best to keep that trouble off the property by calling 911, filing police reports, hiring off-duty police as security guards. But, she said, the city continues to unfairly criticize the apartment complex for not doing enough to root out crime.

Earlier this month, the city filed a suit pursuing an injunction against the owners of Casa Verde, alleging that the landlord "knowingly tolerates habitual criminal activity on the property." Thecity also wants to appoint a receiver to take control of the property and prohibit all current employees from being within 500 feet of Casa Verde.

"We don't knowingly tolerate anything, " Brazil said, exasperated, tapping her nails against the keyboard.

Casa Verde was originally labeled as a problem area under the SAFE program (the acronym stands for Support Abatement Forfeiture and Enforcement), which Schutze has criticized in the past for being selectively enforced, and for putting the crime-fighting onus on property owners instead of police officers.

In February 2011, Casa Verde's landlords agreed to a Nuisance Abatement plan with the city, agreeing to install better lighting, add security guards and do more comprehensive background checks on prospective tenants. But Andrew Gilbert, the assistant city attorney who filed the injunction against Casa Verde's landlords, tells Unfair Park the plan Casa Verde agreed to follow just isn't working.

"The City has been monitoring the number of offenses at the Casa Verde Apartments and also the owner's compliance with the Nuisance Abatement Plan," he wrote in an email. "Since the time that the owner signed the Nuisance Abatement Plan, there were at least ten additional serious offenses committed at those apartments." That's evidence, he said, that the property owners were knowingly allowing illegal activity to continue.

"The City refuses to turn a blind eye to the existence of an on-going common nuisance," he added.

The injunction states that between June 2010 and June 2011, there have been 13 documented cases of drug-dealing, one robbery, three aggravated assaults, one murder and one case of unlawful gun possession at Casa Verde. It also includes an attached statement from a police officer who patrols the area, Officer Karen Lewis, who says "this Property continues to be habitually used for drug-related activity, robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, and unlawfully carrying a weapon. Furthermore, the Property has a reputation as a place where person go to purchase illegal substances."

Brazil is "not denying at all" that there have been incidents at Casa Verde, she said. "No apartment complex is totally safe or crime-proof." The last serious incident she could think of was a fight outside The Lofts, the apartment complex next door. "They ran over here," she said emphatically. "And our officers were the ones who called the city police."

But she said Casa Verde's management was told in February that it had a year to show improvement. To that end, she said they've installed improved lighting on the property, limited access gates to make it harder for people to come and go without the guards knowing and are planning on putting up a guard shack at the main entrance. They've also hired bilingual staff in the office, she said, "to help accommodate some of the neighborhood needs."

"We have a time frame, and we're sticking to it," she said.

For the past year, Brazil said, the landlord has paid off-duty police officers to provide both day- and night-shift security patrols.

Brazil didn't want to name her landlord or disclose the other properties he owns, but insisted that Tres Arboles isn't encouraging or abetting crime and that the other buildings the company owns in the city are "all doing fine."

"We're very proactive in what we do," she said. "The owner is very active and is out on the property two or three times a month. The city has to have people to pick on. It's easier to do multifamily apartment complexes as opposed to condos."

Ultimately, Brazil argued that what's going on at Casa Verde is about the nature of the neighborhood where it's located, not negligence or indifference on the part of the owner.

"Apartment complexes are not the only place where crime happens," she said, "This area is crime-ridden. But we'll continue to do what needs to be done. "Dallas Injunction Petition Of CCC&R Tres Arboles
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Kimmik469
Kimmik469

lol yea i lived here for 4 yrs and the whole time it was bad ...management was to scared to even live here and finally paid off the rest of my lease and moved out 6 mnths early ..they already had bilingual staff and security and always blamed everything on management ..if you love the show cops then this is the right place to move into haha

Martin Sanders
Martin Sanders

instead of pointing fingers! help the situation. regardless the tax payers are going to be paying. whether its helping and keeping roofs over peoples head or being drug through court. regardless tax payers are paying. for what? so they can turn it into something else. wonder what real estate investor is pushing money to pay for this crap!

gabbahey
gabbahey

Wife works at Presby, the hospital has a big satellite facility there on Pineland, behind the American Heart Association building. There have been multiple, separate instances of bullets flying into the windows of their building. Fortunately, no one was hit. Am leary every time she has to go over there. The restaurant that burned to a crisp a few months ago (Al Amir, or whatever it was called), it's still in a charred heap, nothing has been done with it.

Years ago, a buddy lived near Fair Oaks and Phoenix, we called the area, "Little Beiruit". Sadly, seems that nothings changed about the area.

There's a lot of gentrification dollars to be had over in the area. Not saying it's right, just sayin'.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

While im not normally a fan of using ED to take down properties, Im willing to make exceptions in this case. Many of these decaying section 8 MFUs between greenville over to lake highlands are nothing more than rotting, broken down dumps that need to meet the wrecking ball. In their place, id like to see some actual development of residential in the area.

Jeff
Jeff

Yep, most of it was given away in the late 80's by the Resolution Trust, turned into section 8 and bled dry.  If the economy had not tanked it would all be gone by now.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Please note that no where in the Story does it indicate the property is Sec. 8.

cp
cp

Speaking from experience, it is the condos that have turned into de facto apartment complexes, with owners renting out to Section 8. Those are more difficult to manage than apartments because they are all owned by a bunch of different people.

Kstreet
Kstreet

Merlan, just because Hargrove writes like he's going out for the Douchebag Pulitzer doesn't mean you have to try and compete.

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

I've actually got my sights set on the Catheter Nobel Prize for Assholery.     

steve
steve

some big donor or corporation wants that land for some reason, so the city is acting as enforcer and they will eventually take the property and sell it for a low price to whoever it is that's pulling the strings.  follow the money and find out who wants this land...

The Derelict
The Derelict

  man, a lot of you sure care about a property that is not yours.  get back to your cubicles or 12th cup of coffee. 

cp
cp

So, what exactly is your excuse?

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Bingo!  The property's California owner purchased the property in 2005.  The property has 284 units and is appraised at only $3.2 million.

The owner probably only had to come up with 10-15% as a down payment and the loan maybe non-recourse (i.g. no personal liability). If they're just making a profit of $1,000 per unit per year, he's already covered his down payment and now has an economic incentive to pull as much cash out short term (no maintenance and run it cheap) then just dump it back to the lender. Typically at this point the complex is beyond repair and the surrounding properties have suffered.

The Owner:CCC&R TRES ARBOLES LLC%KANAKO ASAKURA23545 CRENSHAW BLVD STE 205ATORRANCE, CALIFORNIA 905055252

Oops, unlikely that Kanako Asakura is a "white guy" thought, me bad.

Thank you Dallas Central Appraisal District website:

http://www.dallascad.org/AcctDetailCom.aspx?ID=00000366736000000#Legal

Before the real estate collaspe Dallas got flooded with Californian that had sold their rent house or duplex and were coming to Texas where they could buy and entire apartment complex from their proceeds. Many times they had no experience managing a multifamily property and were going to manage the property themselves.  All a recipe for failure.

Googled the address which led to this company:

http://cccandr.com

It's a carefully designed site that doesn't have anyone's name anywhere (To protect the guilty? Most RE firms have info and bios on the principals). Walks like a slumlord, quacks like a slumlord, manages a property like a slumlord, must be a, . . .

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Would like to known what the surrounding properties' owners think, they probably have a good idea of the "bad" properties are in Fair Oaks.

Yes, Dallas typically only uses code enforcement to reward connected developers. However, maybe in this case the City's doing the right thing for the wrong reasons?

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

"Brazil didn't want to name her landlord or disclose the other properties he owns,  . . ." Why's that? Unless they're ashamed of being a slumlord, maybe?

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Seems like general back-and-forth argument here is that poor people are either helpless animals or wild, vicious animals. They are neither, but clearly they are uneducated enough to hold their landlords accountable for providing a safe place to live. So if the landlord won't do it, let the city step in. If nothing changes, they should be shut down.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

"hey are uneducated enough to hold their landlords accountable for providing a safe place to live."

You're not from here right?

This is "business friendly" Texas. Tenants basically have no rights, combine that with a sever lack of affordable housing, and the fact that more that a 1,000+ apartments have been torn down in this neighborhood it's a slumlord's dream.

TimCov
TimCov

I lived in this area for several years, and I can tell you that there is only so much apartment management can do. And, considering the size of the complex, the number of crimes is not that bad. I saw the writing on the wall for that neighborhood when the best complex in the area (Timbercreek) was torn down to build a WalMart. There are people wanting to redevelop that neighborhood into more retail and more expensive apartments. 

You can see the encroachment of what they want for the neighborhood in want is going in nearby (a huge Whole Foods as part of a high end development and the JC Penny's going with WalMart). I just wonder which developers are putting the heat on the city.

cp
cp

It;s not any particular developer, it is the Vickery Meadow Public Improvement District, the board of which is made up of property owners and developers.

Guest
Guest

Isn't this exactly the sort of thing that the free market should sort out?

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

You know what they do when developer wants to redevelop urban property sick City Attorney's office on them. I lived in the area once upon a time drove through other day it looked like a village of low to moderate income people who don't realize in North Dallas there is a certain way to look act and show up.What I saw does not pass the test.They will be gone real soon no matter what the management does.Police fight crime why do they not stop drug dealing? Apartment managers rent apartments area id bad because Police are not stopping crime.

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

Recently we went to go see a friend in that area.  Didn't get the complex name, and our GPS hosed us and kept telling us it was on the wrong side of the street.

Let me enlighten people here who never went to this area.  You have four complexes on four corners.  One complex is older, but shaded with trees, and kind of nice.  The other looked okay, but again, older and certainly not 'upscale'.  Our friends' complex is another older one but looks like it's clearly been upgraded in recent years and appears like they're trying to boost the appearance and overall quality of the place.  Note that this place is not gated or anything, it's just nicer.

Then there's Casa Verde.  Security gate?  Wide open.  (Yes, it's during the day, but why have a gate if it's going to be parked open?)  Buildings?  Think Juarez. The poor parts of Juarez.  Shady types just lurking around in doorways and the parking lot.  This place was -scary-, even on a SUNDAY afternoon.  A complete hell hole.

I'm a former landlord.  The family business growing up was LOW COST housing.  But we kept it nice.  We evicted anyone who caused trouble.  We cultivated a sense of community.  Was it hard?  Sure, but it was the way to do things right, to keep from becoming a slum.

Casa Verde is a SLUM.  I defy anyone to drive out to that intersection on Fair Oaks and check those four complexes and not sing the old Sesame Street song: one of these things is not like the others...

GAA
GAA

Casa Verde is a dump.  A friend of mine lived there for several years.  I was at the complex when the murder mentioned above took place.  Many of the tenants leave their children unattended in the parking lot.  

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

There are some Apartments that are not Not Slum /or Ghetto like that are well maintained places in Oak Cliff that have those kind of crime stats in a Month not a year.

Sorry but the way I see it is  Someone is wanting to bring something new to the area and it is just time for the Poor folks to go. 

If not one way then the other.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

That is exactly what I thought when I read the article.  This complex is being targeted for redevelopment. 

cp
cp

Well, it is, the whole area is, really, that's the goal of the Public Improvement District.They want all those poor people in South Dallas, and they want their own (well-maintained and crime-free) properties values to soar.

Still, poor people should be able to live in a safe place free of drug dealing rapist thugs. This are used to be a nice part of town and I believe it can be once more, but folks need to get out of the mindset that raze/redevelop/big box retail is the savior of all things economic. Unless they knock down every single apartment complex in Vickery Meadow and build a gated community with multi-million dollar homes, the apartments will be a part of the landscape. The question is: can they do it right like Lincoln does with The Village, or continue to do it this way, the cheap and easy way?

Bob
Bob

YES!  Go, poor folks, go.

Go, Go, Go.

John_McKee
John_McKee

This is ridiculous, there is zero crime at my building and we don't even have a security guard, just a concierge and a valet.

It's time to stop making excuses, the disadvantaged need to clean up their act and stop acting like the city should come in and make them feel safe in their own homes.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

"the disadvantaged need to clean up their act and stop acting like the city should come in and make them feel safe in their own homes."

Amazing amount of stupidity packed in one sentence. Who knew that having a landlord who rents to drug deals means you have a lack of personal responsibility. Apparently being poor and expecting minimal police protect is a bad thing.

My guess the landlord is not a "disadvantaged" person, probably a white guy who's a absentee landlord that lives in California or Florida, and has protected his identity with several shell companies.

Montemalone
Montemalone

Poor people need places to live.They're not welcome on Beverly Dr.They're not welcome in West Plano.They're not welcome on Daria Pl.Where would you guys suggest they live?

MisterMiguel
MisterMiguel

Poor people should live in poorly maintained apartment complexes with security problems that are ignored by the city.

Oh, wait.

That's your suggestion.

Bob
Bob

So, if you are poor, it's OK for the city to allow you to live in substandard (slum) housing, because, well, if you're poor, that's all you deserve?  The city has legally enforceable building codes and zoning restrictions that apply to ALL housing, and there rules are there for a reason:  to allow everyone who lives in the city to reside in a basically decent space.  Poor people don't deserve roaches and rats and faulty air conditioning and backed up toilets and rotting walls garbage-strewn yards any more than rich people (or middle-class people) do.  Decent housing shouldn't be limited to Beverly or West Plano or Daria--it should be the minimum standard everywhere in the city, such as in East Dallas, Oak Cliff, Ferguson Road and Melody Lane.

Montemalone
Montemalone

The property in question is not cited for being a slum. It's about the city harassing the owners of properties where crimes occur, not necessarily due to the actions or inactions of the management.The implication is that poor people cause crimes.Just because the place isn't brand new doesn't make it a slum.Of course, it could be a huge dump, I don't know.

cp
cp

It is a dump and has been a big problem for years, before they painted it that hideous green and changed the name. This is the way these owners (who don't even live in the US, because this is simply an investment, nothing more and nothing less) respond to "issues"- they slap on a new coat of paint and put up a new sign with a different name on it. Please explain how enforcing rules is considered harassment? And no, the implication isn't that "poor people cause crimes", it's that drug dealers cause crimes, and unfortunately poor people have to live next door to them.

MattL1
MattL1

Main Street Garden?

Montemalone
Montemalone

I said poor.Not homeless.

cp
cp

Prison comes to mind.....

MattL1
MattL1

Drug dealers have to live somewhere, too.

cp
cp

No, it's really not a very good point. He's listing zip codes with the highest wealth in Dallas. That's dumb. There are many, many affordable places where poor people can live SAFELY, without having to live with drug  dealers and rapists next door while they try to gen on with life, raise their kids and work at their minimum wage jobs. I am so sick and tired of people using this bullshit argument that "poor people have to live somewhere" and yet don't seem to mind that that somewhere is next door to drug dealers.....

MattL1
MattL1

I figured that out after I hit "Post."  Not working with a full deck today...

Montemalone
Montemalone

I should have typed in Comic Sans...

MattL1
MattL1

I know.  I was joking, but your point is a good one.  

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Its another reason many of these properties need to come tumbling down, as quite a few of them are, frankly, city dumps with rotting walls. This is what happens when you allow slumlords to come into an area and take over failing complexes. Section 8 or not, they have a responsibility to keep up the property, yet many of these property owners either dont know or care about whats going on at their property..

What?
What?

Perhaps I missed something but I don't see anything in the article about the condition of the buildings?  The way I read it, it's a catch 22.  They call the police to stop crime, they get punished.  They don't call the police, it gets worse.  If the residents aren't allowed to rent anywhere then they will be homeless and cause more problems.

Ben Dover
Ben Dover

You are attempting to take a complex situation and make it simple,but it's not.If the complex would do a background check prior to leasing to a resident,they can thwart off problems before they begin. The residents are not hindered from looking elsewhere to rent..The number of police calls can be lessened and the police presence spread more evenly if the complex had competent off duty police officers.The condition of the management and the owners absolute refusal to place resources where they are needed is a problem.

Eastdallasgirl1
Eastdallasgirl1

Bendover has some basic points that need addressing at a property with the kind of issues that dont go away over night. It sounds like the property is too fargone for rehab, and the owners arent taking much action toward code or improvements. It's time for a new gameplan.

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