Orange City Council makes demolition vote on Sabine Park Apartments

Published 12:30 am Thursday, May 25, 2023

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Uninhabitable living conditions and the refusal of property owners to bring Sabine Park Apartments up to standard is leading to the planned demolition of the large-scale apartment complex in Orange.

Orange City Council members present at Tuesday’s meeting voted unanimously to demolish the structures.

Orange Housing Officer Kelvin Knauf said there are nine buildings and dozens of apartment units included in the demolition vote.

“We will need to have asbestos studies done on each building. That is going to take several weeks,” said Knauf, who is also Orange’s planning and community development director.

The city employee of more than eight years said this is an unprecedented action taken by the municipality concerning a large-scale residential complex during his tenure.

“We have gone this far with individual houses that are substandard and the builder is unwilling to bring them up to code,” he said. “There have been some properties that we have gone this far with but never an apartment complex.”

That was not for a lack of trying as city officials noted months of effort were made to contact property owners and managers in New York City and Grapevine, Texas.

When concerns for asbestos are eliminated or mitigated, the City of Orange will then advertise for demolition bids, which takes approximately three weeks.

Those will then be opened and presented to city council members for approval.

“You are probably looking at mid-summer before we actually start demolition,” Knauf said. “It always depends, of course, on whoever gets the winning bid and what their timeframe and workload is.”

The city will fund all the initial expenditures and file a lien against the property in hopes of recouping its costs.

Sabine Park Apartments residents were notified in April to vacate the property following a ruling in Orange Municipal Court that the facilities were legally uninhabitable.

“They know there is an order for them to vacate the property,” Knauf said. “We would hope anybody who is still there would move out. We will check and see if there is anyone still there before (the structures) are demolished.”

This week’s vote by the city council followed discussion on the matter in closed executive session.

— Additional reporting by Shari Hardin