Problematic apartment complex in North Austin gets another checkup

Austin Code inspectors gather at Cross Creek Apartments to test water temperatures. (KXAN/Frank Martinez)
Austin Code inspectors gather at Cross Creek Apartments to test water temperatures.(KXAN/Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A North Austin apartment complex that has been on the Austin Code’s Repeat Offender List due to its numerous code violations is getting another checkup from the city.

On Thursday morning, numerous code inspectors met with representatives of the Cross Creek Apartments in a court ordered joint inspection to test water temperatures throughout the complex’s 18 buildings. Earlier this month, a KXAN investigation revealed Cross Creek apartments received $2 million in taxpayer dollars to help allocate 200 units as “affordable.”

In June, a judge granted the city’s request to issue a temporary injunction against the owners of the Cross Creek Apartments. The owners agreed to make hot water line repairs within 45 days.

The problems with Cross Creek started way before June. In January, the city issued its first injunction, following multiple code violations in 2015. According to a lawsuit filed in Travis County, in the span of six months, a city code inspector came by a total of 13 times and discovered the same problem of no hot water every time. Cross Creek has been on the city’s repeat offender list since 2014.

“The water is warm, it’s not hot like it’s supposed to be,” Cross Creek tenant Billy Charlesworth told KXAN. “We have bed bugs here and we’ve complained about it and complained about it.”

Charlesworth said he’s lived in the complex for the last five years and in that time, he has reached out to different complex owners and managers pleading to fix the issues.

“They’re working on it, is what they said. I just quit talking about it. Because there’s no sense in saying anything more because they won’t do anything about it.”

The last complex-wide code inspection was was in January. Austin Code Assistant Division Manager Matthew Noriega told KXAN Thursday, “There was improvement.”

While a step forward, the improvements weren’t enough to meet a city ordinance that requires water temperatures to reach at least 110 degrees.

“There were more than half that were still under 110,” Noriega said, meaning fines will continue to rack up every day until the problems are remedied. The fines are running around $400,000 right now, according to Noriega.

Cross Creek owner Royce Mulholland had a very different takeaway from Thursday’s inspections. In a statement, he said, “We are pleased with the result of the inspections today that continue to show the residents of Cross Creek have been getting hot water to each of their units. The City and representatives of the property jointly inspected numerous units across the complex, and nearly every one exceeded the City’s 110-degree temperature reading.”

Mulholland went on to explain that Cross Creek representatives used digital thermometers, while the city used an analog thermometer. The difference in some cases, he wrote, was more than 20 degrees. Mullholland says he looks forward to presenting the information in court next month and continuing rehabilitation of the property and providing affordable housing. A compliance hearing is scheduled for Sept. 15.

If you have any issues you want to report, just call 311. The average wait time for a compliance officer to check on the complaint is two days. The Development Services Department has also launched what’s called the Austin Code & Permit Tracker, an online search tool that provides information on code violations and building permits that are issued.

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