Agreement reached in lawsuit over troubled condominium complex - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Agreement reached in lawsuit over gang-ridden condominium complex

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Gang members were so confident that this condominium complex at 7400 Bissonnet Street would always be their home that many of them had "7400" tattooed on their bodies.

"I don't feel safe," said Whitney Cates who was trying to move out of the La promenade condo complex when we interviewed her.

"There's lots of gang activity here, there is non stop music at night," Cates said. "There's drive-bys."

"Our biggest concern was the amount of crime emanating from this project," said David Hawes with the Sharpstown Management District. "You're talking about drugs and prostitution."

They'd had enough so the Sharpstown Management District funded a unique approach to turn things around.

They got the Harris County Attorney's office to file a nuisance abatement suit against the complex.

"So instead of going after the criminal you're actually prosecuting the owners," said Assistant Harris County Attorney Laura Cahill.

No easy task in this case.

While one man owns about 70 percent of the complex, these are condos and dozens of them are owned by the folks who live in them.

Like Jose Palacio who bought his condo 22 years ago.

No one involved in cleaning up the complex wanted to put condo owners like Palacio out on the street.

"This is their home," Hawes said. "They deserve the same protection as anybody who lives over here in this neighborhood."

An agreed order to settle the case will mean big changes here like on-site security guards, surveillance cameras and a working security gate.

"Like increasing the rent," said Cahill. "They were charging such low rents and having such a high occupancy that was creating a problem because they were overloaded."

Future renters will undergo background checks.

No one expects changes overnight but many believe the future finally looks brought for a place that brought such darkness to a neighborhood.

"We do away with gang activity we do away with all the things that are going on affecting Sharpstown High School and everyone in the community," Hawes said.

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