It was big news when Houston’s City Council voted to purchase the run down Oakbrook Apartments at 5353 DeSoto St from Fertile Real Estate, LLC, who had owned them since 2013, for a reported $1.25 million.
Now people are eager to see the apartments gone as soon as possible. Abandoned for years, Oakbrook has numerous citations from the city. The Department of Neighborhoods Inspections & Public Service division had recorded more than 70 project numbers on 5353 Desoto relating to several different units in the complex and dating back to year 2005. The most serious crime on recent record was an assault on the complex grounds in May of 2013.
Council Member Brenda Stardig whose District A includes Oakbrook said she has been working on reducing the density of this area for many years, since first taking office in 2010. When asked why Fertile, who intended to operate new apartments at the location, was willing to sell, Stardig said it was because the vacant building is in the floodway.
“Because of that, they would not have been able to make the repairs necessary to make it habitable,” she said.
According to Houston Parks Board Communications Manager Catherine Butsch said that they were pleased to be able to contribute to a positive development for this community, but that the apartment’s appointment with the wrecking ball would have to wait for closing.
“Once we close on the property later this month, the city’s General Services Department will bid out the demolition, which will take 90 to 120 days,” she said.
Butsch said that plans for the park include minimal landscaping for the time being and that greenspace restoration will be very modest at first with meadow grass. She added that the Houston Parks Board has no other acquisitions planned for in the area.
Council Member Stardig said she working on finding private funding “to make this property a destination for not only the community but for all of Houston.”
“With the bayou greenway initiative abutting to the property, this area has great potential,” Stardig said.
Stardig sees the acquisition and demolition as a jumping off point for further progress.
The Near Northwest area is already making remarkable improvements,” said Stardig. “With the new White Oak Path adjacent to the property, converting Oakbrook to green space will be of great value for the Inwood area. Additionally, reducing the density along De Soto is going to help with flooding mitigation. I have also allocated a significant amount of overtime funds for HPD to patrol this area. I am extremely optimistic about Inwood’s future.”