Whatever Happened to the Divine Mesa Apartments? - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

5/20/08--Lufkin

Whatever Happened to the Divine Mesa Apartments?

by Taylor Hemness

In July of 2007, a number of residents at the Divine Mesa apartments in Lufkin contacted KTRE to complain about the living conditions at the location.

We took our cameras inside, where residents showed us mold growing in their homes. One of them also told us about the sewage waste that backed up into her bathroom from another tenant's apartment, and having to kill a snake that had crawled into her unit from a hole in the wall of the bathroom.

After that first story aired, improvements were made at Divine Mesa after KTRE talked to the owner out of Longview, and to City of Lufkin inspectors.

Now, the apartments aren't even called Divine Mesa. The previous owner, JAT & Associates, lost the property through foreclosure with a bank out of California, and it's now being operated as Poulan Apartments by Lufkin Property Management. That company's owner, Donna Green, told KTRE that when they took over the property in January, they saw just how much work needed to be done.

"When we assumed the management in January, we were given no records, we were given very few keys, and we had no idea who lived where," Green said. "The previous ownership wouldn't pay their water bill, and I believe the property was maybe scheduled for a water termination on three or four occasions."

The grass has been mowed, and the vacant lot behind the complex has been cleaned out, but the apartments we were able to see were still in need of some work.

We tried to speak to the tenants we spoke to in our original story in 2007, but another tenant told us that the previous ownership had kicked those tenants out for talking to KTRE. JAT & Associates could not be reached for comment.

As for the apartments we did see, the problem seems to be that management isn't being notified.

"It hasn't been easy to train people that when you have a maintenance issue, you need to call and report it, " Green said. "We have maintenance people on staff that we dispatch to do what we call a make ready, and also your normal work orders."

"I haven't had any more complaints from the residents there," said Dale Allred, Director of Inspection Services for the City of Lufkin. "Course that's kind of unusual, because a building that's 25 years old, usually you get some kind of complaints. So apparently the property management company is being very responsive to the residents needs."

So, almost a year after KTRE was first notified, it seems that the Poulan apartments are being improved. But Lufkin Property Management is stressing the fact that the amount of work involved means that those improvements will take some time.

The residents we talked to also said that they're afraid to drink the water. Donna Green at Lufkin Property Management said that it's Lufkin water, and those tenants shouldn't be concerned.

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