America the Messy Yard Police State

Bankrupt unfinished construction projects violating messy yard laws

We have a double standard here! When these bankrupt unfinished construction projects, which are homes, hotels and businesses violate the messy yard laws they don't get messy yard tickets.

Nor do the messy yard cops seize their property when the messy yard violations are not fixed.

Last but not least the messy yard cops don't come in and fix the messy yard violations and charge the property owners for the cost of the fixes.

Of course they did all of the above to my homes with out any court orders and seized both of my homes with out convicting me of any crimes. Hell I never even went to court.


Economy leaves many Valley projects unfinished

by J. Craig Anderson - Jun. 18, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

In most Valley cities and towns, local officials don't consider a construction project abandoned until a year has passed since the last brick, beam, pipe or panel was put in place.

As a result, dozens of stalled office, retail and condominium projects will be declared dead this year, their construction permits voided and their properties inspected for long-term safety hazards.

Some abandoned projects were barely getting started when the real-estate market collapsed last fall. Others stalled primarily because of financial problems with the developer or lender.

Such projects include a few high-profile developments, such as the Mortgages Ltd.-financed Centerpoint Condominiums in downtown Tempe, and several smaller projects including an abandoned infill subdivision by the now-bankrupt Zacher Homes at Eighth Place and Missouri Avenue in Phoenix.

"A clock starts ticking from the last time a building inspector visited the property," Tempe Development Services Manager Chris Anaradian said. "Then (a year later), we have to approach the property owner and say, 'Hey, what's going on here?' "

A year of inactivity generally triggers the revocation of a developer's building permit, Anaradian said, and building-safety officials have to prepare for the long term.

That usually means securing or reinforcing the site's perimeter fence and inspecting the area for obvious hazards.

It almost never includes making the sites look better, which means Valley residents can expect to encounter an assortment of exposed steel beams and concrete skeletons for months or years to come.

The stalled Centerpoint condo project in downtown Tempe - a doorless, windowless monument to the collapse of developer Avenue Communities LLC and financier Mortgages Ltd. - will hit its inactivity anniversary this summer, Anaradian said. Officials in other Valley cities said many smaller projects were abandoned around the same time as Centerpoint.

Anaradian said Tempe is likely to push Mortgage Ltd.'s investors, now in control of the company as it moves through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, for more than just a simple fence because of the site's proximity to heavily traveled walkways.

"We would probably look to see if there's a way to get the investors to improve the sidewalk, install exterior doors to make it safe, and install some type of buffer around the building," he said, adding that the buffer could be something like a block wall or fence masked with bushes and trees.

Chandler officials faced a similar scenario in April 2007, a year after construction ground to a halt on Elevation Chandler, former developer Jeff Cline's hotel and condominium project just south of Chandler Fashion Center.

City Assistant Planning and Development Director Dave Nakagawara said Chandler officials' first priority was to ensure the site was not a threat to public safety.

What city officials generally can't do, Nakagawara said, is make a half-finished building look pretty. Nor can it force the developer to finish up or tear down.

Once the immediate public-safety threats have been addressed, there isn't much else cities and towns can do, Nakagawara said.

"Then it's more of a waiting game," he said.

Given analysts' predictions that billions of dollars' worth of commercial real estate will face foreclosure in the coming half-decade, the wait is likely to be a long one.

Real-estate attorney Jeffrey Hursh said that in many cases, the project's lenders would be the ones deciding whether to finish it, sell it or sit on it.

"It's an economic decision," said Hursh, the State Bar of Arizona's Real Property Executive Council chairman and an associate at Snell & Wilmer law firm in Tucson. Concerns about legal liability also play into the decision, he said.

In the case of Elevation Chandler, a foreclosure auction was held Monday, but there were no bidders, which means construction lender Point Center Financial, based in California, is likely the new owner.

Hursh said any developer who decides to resume or take over a stalled construction project would face challenges such as costly inspections and repairs to ensure months of exposure to the elements have not compromised the structure's integrity.

Subcontractors may charge a premium, he said, because there's a good chance the former developer didn't pay them for previous work on the site.


America the Messy Yard Police State