FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Raw sewage was collecting in the parking lot of a Fort Worth apartment building Monday, a property the city says it has been inspecting regularly, and that is caught at the center of a complicated fraud case in federal court.
The sewage appeared to be coming from a pipe at the rear of the Stratton Apartments on E. Lancaster Ave.
The runoff was moving toward a natural drainage area that runs through the backyards of homes in the Central Meadowbrook neighborhood.
Residents at the apartment Monday said they were unsure how long the issue had been going on, saying sometimes their plumbing worked, and sometimes it didn’t.
Asked about the issue Monday, a spokesperson for the city’s code compliance department said staff had been inspecting the property regularly, and providing monthly reports on the condition. It was unclear if any action had been taken to mitigate any health impacts from the sewage runoff.
Around the 52-unit complex, broken windows were scattered on the pavement. One burned unit was wide open to the elements, from a fire that was reported in early April. A tarp was on one section of roof and shingles were missing from large portions of the rest of it.
Residents who have been active in nearby neighborhood associations said despite assurances from city departments that the property would be cleaned up, it was only getting worse.
“You just feel road blocked, that there’s no way it’s going to move quick enough,” said Mike Phipps, who lives in the nearby West Meadowbrook neighborhood. “And the answers aren’t good.”
The situation is complicated by the building’s part in a case in federal court involving its owner, 4D Circle LLC.
The Securities and Exchange Commission accused the owners in 2017 of operating a fraudulent real estate investment scheme.
The court appointed a receiver to care for the Stratton and other properties. In a quarterly report to the court in April, the receiver noted it had a property management company and had continued “to address various delayed maintenance issues and to work toward stabilizing the properties.”
However, the report also notes there was not enough cash available to even pay the receiver’s fees.
And in the first three months of 2019, the Stratton reported only $746.80 in net income.
Residents at the complex were hesitant to speak on the record about conditions, which Phipps attributed to possible fears they could lose their only place to live.
“These people deserve so much better,” he said. “It’s sad they have to endure that.”