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House Wrongly Demolished After City Auction Purchase

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas City Hall has been targeting vacant, boarded up homes. It’s all in effort to clean up south Dallas.

Some homes have been demolished, and others sold. But CBS 11 News found one case where the city accidentally did both… selling a house to someone and then knocking it down.

Working as a contractor Julio Soto has helped build many homes. “To fix them up. That’s what I’ve been doing all my life,” he said.

Soto said he had special plans for the house he bought on Fordham Road. This one was for him. “I need a bigger house because my kids are growing.”

So imagine his surprise this past August when he went on Fordham Road and found the home was gone. CBS 11 reporter Andrea Lucia asked Soto, “You showed up and there was nothing?” He shook his head and said, “Nothing. Like it is now.”

Soto bought the house in disrepair from a City of Dallas auction. But it turns out the city forgot it had sold the property. Officials also forgot to take it off the list of vacant homes and eyesores set to be demolished. The city tore the home down.

Dallas City councilmember Dwaine Caraway admitted there was, “…a miscommunication between some departments in the city.”

Caraway says the city made a mistake and will reimburse Soto for the loss. But he says Soto is also to blame because he had not cleaned up the property since taking possession in February.

“They have a responsibility to take that eyesore and bring it up to code, so the community doesn’t have to endure that,” Caraway said.

Soto said the previous homeowners made it hard to get things in line. “They left a lot of mess inside, so it take three weeks for me to clean it up.”

Soto said he’d started putting a lot of things in motion; including getting cabinets and windows for the home.

CBS 11 visited three other homes Soto purchased from the city. He made all of the purchase over the last two years and all of the properties showed signs of improvement.

Neighbors said the property where Soto was working Wednesday is significantly better than it used to be.

Despite having his property wrongly demolished, Soto says he still plans to build a home on Fordham Road. This time he’ll have to start from scratch.

A City of Dallas spokesperson said the house on Fordham was still sub-standard at the time it was demolished. Still, officials said they regret the mistake and that the city is now reviewing its processes, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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