City officials rule Angelina House unsafe

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The Angelina House was once the tallest building in Lufkin and now it's on the soon-to-be condemned list and all the residents are being forced out.

The building in downtown Lufkin is a historic building, but for safety reasons the fire marshal has ordered residents to find another place to live.

The roof in the five-story building leaks all the way to the ground floor and on the fifth floor you can actually see the roof in places where the ceiling has caved in.

The carpet in the hallways were soaking wet.  The building inspector said a huge concern is all the water in the walls is mixing with electricity.

Residents said they know they have to get out, but it's a shame it has come to this for such a historic building.

"I'm going to find a place to live, a better place," one resident said. "The maintenance man told me to stay out of here because that ceiling would cave in."

The historic building may be 87 years old, but it wasn't always this way.

"Well it was nice when I first moved here, then the dopeheads started moving in and everything," the resident said. "But, I said God's ready for me to get out of here."

"Some of them have already moved out, and found a safer place to be and that's what we want, we want them to be in a place where when they put their head down at night, that they rest and not worry about something going wrong," Lufkin City Inspector Dale Allred said.

"This whole place would've caved in on us...none of us could've got out," the resident said. "Why, why people are you putting us elderly people through all of this?  Why didn't you do something?  Why?"

One apartment reeked of mold and mildew and while no one lived in this particular apartment, the resident directly across the hall said the stench is unbearable.

The owner had a chance.

"We agreed to let him occupy no more than 12 units on the lowest possible floor, thinking that once he could generate cash flow, that he could secure a loan and start doing work to the building," Allred said.  "That's been over a year ago and that didn't happen."

"It's too late now baby, the damage is done," the resident said.

The owner, Soumil Patel said they do have the funds available to fix up the place, but they are waiting until they fully own the property.  They said the deal has not been closed.  He said he is not aware of any black mold, ceilings caving in or light fixtures with water in them.  He said once they get documentation, they will start working with the city.

City officials said they will turn the power off on May 11, but they would like people to be out by the end of the month.