After a tenant lawsuit and a recent foreclosure posting, it looks as if 27 of the 44 long-vacant remaining units in the Sabine are finally headed to auction on February 28th.
The Sabine is an 80-unit condo conversion project of a mostly-empty office building on Waller Creek into a new condo project adjoining the Hilton Garden Inn on 5th Street near I-35. The project was completed in 2007 and the majority of units still remain vacant although they have been removed from the market due to pending litigation.
The project has been plagued with problems. A year ago, 35 residents of The Sabine filed suit against the developers for list of problems that the condo owners say have been ongoing for month. The problems included elevator issues (a 12/29/08 elevator inspection exposed 19 code violations including some that were described as serious safety problems), problems with water leaks, window seals, and sound-proofing, and failure to pay property taxes on more than 40 units.
In addition, Compass bank has twice posted the property for foreclosure.
Now, the developer has settled with the tenants and turned control of the HOA over to the current Sabine owners — an unusual move for a project with so many vacant units. In addition, the developer has committed to major renovations to remedy the issues raised in the lawsuit. With the lawsuit gone, the developers are able to pursue their long-rumored plan to auction off the remaining units. The auction date for 27 of the 44 units has been set for February 28. It is not clear what will be done with the remaining 17 units.
The Brazos Place auctions (as well as the sale of deeply-discounted Shore properties) showed in an even more difficult market that there is strong demand for highly discounted downtown Austin condo units. For potential bidders, auctions like this typically bring a 25-30% discount off the original prices. In the case of the Sabine
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