Letters

A Word from Randall Davis
To say that the article written by Lisa Bass ["Lofty Aspersions," June 27] was disconcerting would be a dramatic understatement. I was completely taken by surprise regarding the subject matter, short response time and purported unhappiness of various residents at the Dakota Lofts. Listed below are factual responses to the allegations put forth in the article.

Tenant Jay Seegers was involved in more than one heated disagreement with members of my staff. They felt it best for both parties if Mr. Seegers sought residence elsewhere; however, he filed suit against the Dakota Lofts in order to remain a resident! How unhappy could he be?

Anne Leahey, purported leader of a tenants' group, claimed that "service is nonexistent." In a survey conducted on or about June 1, we polled the residents as to their satisfaction with the management and maintenance. More than one-third of the residents responded; 31 percent rated it excellent, 52 percent rated it good, 11 percent rated it fair and only 5 percent rated the management and maintenance as poor.

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Dakota resident Gill Perales was quoted as saying that "his service is below quality." Patsy Halanski has been the manager of Dakota Lofts for more than one year. She received her first maintenance request from Mr. Perales in March 1996. He followed this with three requests for service in May 1996, which were related to the fact that he wished to renew his lease. He signed a new lease on June 1, 1996. How unhappy could he be?

Your article implies that 22 of the 53 units at Dakota have joined the "tenants association." Upon establishing the validity of the list, we find that only 15 lofts are represented and some residents were coerced into signing the petition. The purported focus of the association is to "combat health and safety problems at the Dakota." We have never received a health or safety citation at the Dakota Lofts!

The purported petition has a "laundry list" of items, which include a "lack of fire extinguishers in the hallways." The city of Houston Fire Department made their annual inspection of the building on February 21, 1996. Their report did not note a lack of fire extinguishers in the hallway. The entire building is sprinkled, and we employ a fire alarm monitoring company.

Trash is picked up daily -- it is never blocking a stairwell. Security codes allegedly have "not been changed in three years." The security codes were most recently changed in November 1995 and again in March 1996 by written notification to all residents.

There is an issue regarding an open sewer line in the basement garage. There is no open sewer line in the basement; however, four months ago a car bumped a sewer line and we had a spill the size of a "football." This sewer line was repaired within 48 hours of the incident. Ms. Leahey is photographed in front of an old roof drain. There was an old rag in this pipe, but your report erroneously labels this pipe a sewer line. This pipe does no more than bring rain water off the roof.

The article indicates that there is a sign pointing to a "nonexistent fire extinguisher." This sign predates my renovation of the building. There is no requirement to have a fire extinguisher next to a telephone junction box or we would have been notified by the fire department during their February inspection.

The first floor fire escape door mentioned in the article would not stay closed as reported. This is the only allegation that is accurate; however, we have received no complaints prior to the tenant association's "laundry list." This door has been repaired.

Steve Stovall contends that we have cut corners in the construction of "this thing." I reconstructed a 100-year-old building, which meets the construction standards of the city of Houston. In fact, one resident has signed up to buy a Metropolis Loft condominium.

Mr. Stovall further alleges that he reported "a termite problem three times previously." His allegation is unsubstantiated. We have no record of termite activity reported to the manager or we would have called an exterminator immediately, as it potentially affects the value of our asset.

The closing allegation states that after leases get signed, "the Dakota gets back to total disrepair." I invite you or your reporter to visit the Dakota Lofts at any time, day or night, and you will find that this building is always in the best of condition. In my opinion, your story was biased toward a negative situation that did not exist.

Randall Davis
Randall Davis Company
Houston

Editor's note: The June 27 story mischaracterized the nature of the tenants association's complaint regarding security codes, and documents supplied by Davis after publication of the story show that residents were indeed notified of changes to the front door security code of Dakota Lofts in November and March. Additionally, the pipe stuffed with a rag shown in the picture accompanying the story is a drainpipe. The Press regrets the errors. The lawsuit by Jay Seegers to which Davis refers alleged breach of contract by Dakota Lofts for giving Seegers notice to vacate after he had signed a new lease. The suit claimed the notice was retaliation against Seegers for complaining about a proposed rent increase .

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