The association felt they had little choice but to settle. Those residents who intended to sell within a few years anyway didn't want to lose SMU as a motivated buyer. And the homeowners association didn't exactly have the legal resources to match SMU's. "We couldn't afford a long court case," Leslie Davenport says. "We were just a little condo."

The settlement gave SMU the green light to proceed, and by 2005, the school owned more than 75 percent of the complex. SMU now controlled the same homeowners association that once took the university to court; 12 of its 14 members were SMU employees—only one of them even lived at University Gardens. 

After the settlement, Pat Davenport felt pressured and sold her two units. As Leslie remembers it, the school told them that $75 a square foot was market value, but it would offer an additional $20 a square foot to get the deal done.

The empty site in front of the SMU campus is where the University Gardens Condominiums sat for nearly 40 years until being demolished to make room for the 25-acre George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Mark Graham
The empty site in front of the SMU campus is where the University Gardens Condominiums sat for nearly 40 years until being demolished to make room for the 25-acre George W. Bush Presidential Center.
On its Web site, the George W. Bush Foundation, whose primary purpose is the development of the Bush library, posted this 2008 site plan of the future home of the library campus, which included the land upon which University Gardens once stood.
Mark Graham
On its Web site, the George W. Bush Foundation, whose primary purpose is the development of the Bush library, posted this 2008 site plan of the future home of the library campus, which included the land upon which University Gardens once stood.

"They told us 'you'll never get more than 75 a square foot if you don't sell to us now.' That's what they said," Leslie recalls. "And people like my mom couldn't afford to roll the dice."

Still, some former residents feel SMU treated them fairly. Stephen Norton, an accountant, who closed on his unit in 2003, says the school offered him "good, fair market value." But Norton, who has an MBA from SMU, notes that some of the older residents didn't understand that you could get more money simply by holding out and seeking an independent appraisal. 

"They pulled the trigger too quickly. I urged them to wait and they didn't," he says. "There was a broker for SMU that might have been strong-arming some of the residents. He did use the fear factor with some of the older women."

Norton adds that he, like other residents, knew that SMU was looking at the property as a possible site for the Bush library—it had been in the newspaper, after all—but that didn't affect his decision to sell.

Vodicka agrees that yes, many residents suspected that SMU wanted their property for the Bush library, but never knew for certain. And if they had known, they would have held out for more. "The owners would have been a lot more resolute.  Instead, they allowed themselves to be run over."

In 2005, the law firm representing SMU, Locke Liddell, hired an engineering company to inspect the 40-year-old University Gardens. The engineers concluded that the complex needed about $12.4 million in repairs, a staggering sum for the residents who remained.

In June 2005, Peruna Properties sent a notice to the remaining residents: A vote was scheduled by the homeowners association to declare the condominium complex "functionally and economically obsolete." Also included in the notice was a proposed contract offering to purchase the remaining units for "$175 a square foot."

Those residents who attended the homeowners association meeting felt it was a foregone conclusion that their homes had a date with a wrecking ball. Lawyers for SMU grimly sat in the audience, perhaps anticipating future litigation. On the other side of the conflict, Vodicka videotaped the proceedings, ignoring a board member who asked him to stop.

The president of the association, Doug Hallenbeck, was employed by SMU as its director of residential life. He did not live at the complex. At the meeting, he cited the engineering report on the condo and presented one resolution declaring the complex obsolete and a second allowing the association to sell it.

One elderly board member suggested that the association was moving too quickly and asked for a second and third opinion from other engineering firms. The board voted down her motion, and the homeowners, almost all of whom were proxies representing SMU, passed a resolution to tear down the complex.

Those residents who held out till the end, of course, got the best deals: Attorney Mark Stradley received $275 a square foot, and convinced SMU to endow a $100,000 scholarship in the name of his late father Fred Stradley, a graduate of the law school. Yves Gerem, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, received $315 a square foot.

"I escaped from communist country, literally escaped, to come to this kind of treatment? I don't think so," he said in an earlier deposition. "And I was absolutely determined that, you know, I will not accept the original SMU price, even if I had to die."

SMU attorney McElhaney scoffs at the argument that SMU simply exploited a loophole in the condominiums' bylaws, allowing it to strong-arm the people who lived there.  "All of these [residents] bought condominiums and had to play by the rules," he says. "They all assumed the risks."

But Gary Vodicka, not so easily dismissed, refused to sell. On August 10, 2005—two months after the SMU-controlled board voted to tear down his home—he filed a lawsuit against SMU, alleging that the school committed fraud as it went about amassing units in his condo complex.

"The SMU-controlled homeowners board let the condos' repairs and maintenance lapse," he says. "In an attempt to ruin the quality of life, they rented it out to SMU students. They didn't act in the residents' best interests and do what was best for the property; they did what was best for SMU's interest."  

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History is here and now and it does not bode well for George W Bush the 43rd President of USA with a library or witout one!

1) GEORGE W. BUSH oversaw the suffering of millions in New Orleans in KATRINA disaster and did little in a timely fashion resulting in the death of thousands! 

2) GEORGE W. BUSH increased our deficit by fighting TWO wars on the credit card, implementing the Medicare DRUG Plan on the credit card and two BIG TAX CUTS on the credit card. 

3) GEORGE W. BUSH presided over the greatest economic meltdown of the American economy since the Great Depression.

4) GEORGE W. BUSH presided over the greatest terrorist attack on the US soil since Pearl Harbor which was responsible for more than 3000 deaths. 

5) GEORGE W. BUSH's IRAQ war was responsible for nearly 5000 American soldier deaths and 3000+ American contractors. 

6) GEORGE W. BUSH had Osama Bin Laden in his sights in Tora Bora in Afghanistan but he let him escape by not providing enough troops to capture Osama Bin Laden. 

7) GEORGE W. BUSH shifted focus from a legitimate war in Afganistan to an unnecessary war in IRAQ. 

8) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration has been conclusively linked by a 576-page report from a task force of the bipartisan Constitution Project to have used torture.

9) GEORGE W. BUSH turned a surplus nation into a debtor nation by advocating for so much deficit budgeting.

10) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a GDP growth adjusted for inflation at 2.2% with a ranking of 9th in 13 recent Presidents.

11) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a 0.3% increase in jobs with a ranking of 11th in 11 recent Presidents.

12) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a inflation-adjusted changes in worker per capita income of 1.3% with a ranking of 8th in 11 recent Presidents.

13) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a increase in national debt of 88% during his Presidency with a ranking of 3rd HIGHEST in 12 recent Presidents.

14) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a Dow Jones Average’s annual change of -2.0% with a ranking of 11th in 13 recent Presidents.

15) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a final job approval rating of 27% with a ranking of 11th in 12 recent Presidents just above Nixon.

16) GEORGE W. BUSH's Administration had a lowest job approval rating of 19% with a ranking of FIRST in 12 recent Presidents i.e. the LOWEST among all 12 recent Presidents. 

Ajay Jain

Twitter Handle @ajain31.

Mobile: 214-207-9781


50 Reasons We Despised George W. Bush's Presidency: A Reminder on the Day of His Presidential Library Dedication

1. He stole the presidency in 2000. People may forget that Republicans in Florida purged more than 50,000 African-American voters before Election Day, and then went to the Supreme Court where the GOP-appointed majority stopped a recount that would have awarded the presidency to Vice-President Al Gore if all votes were counted. National news organizations verified that outcome long after Bush had been sworn in.

2. Bush’s lies started in that race. Bush ran for office claiming he was a “uniter, not a divider.” Even though he received fewer popular votes than Gore, he quickly claimed he had the mandate from the American public to push his right-wing agenda.  

3. He covered up his past. He was a party boy, the scion of a powerful political family who got away with being a deserter during the Vietnam War. He was reportedly AWOL for over a year from his assigned unit, the Texas Air National Guard, which other military outfits called the "Champagne Division.”

4. He loved the death penalty. As Texas governor from 1995-2000, he signed the most execution orders of any governor in U.S. history—152 people, including the mentally ill and women who were domestic abuse victims. He spared one man’s life, a serial killer.

5. He was a corporate shill from Day 1. Bush locked up the GOP nomination by raising more campaign money from corporate boardrooms than anyone at that time. He lunched with CEOs who would jet into Austin to "educate" him about their political wish lists.

6. He gutted global political progress. He pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol which set requirements for 38 nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change, saying that abiding by the agreement would “harm our economy and hurt our workers.”

7. He embraced global isolationism. He withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, over Russia’s protest, taking the U.S. in a direction not seen since World War I. 

8. He ignored warnings about Osama bin Laden. He ignored the Aug. 6, 2001 White House intelligence briefing titled, “Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S.” Meanwhile, his chief anti-terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, and first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, testified in Congress that he was intent on invading Iraq within days of becoming president.

9. Ramped up war on drugs, not terrorists. The Bush administration had twice as many FBI agents assigned to the war on drugs than fighting terrorism before 9/11, and kept thousands in that role after the terror attacks. 


Truly shameful. SMU and the Methodists detested the Bush2 administrations' botched Iraq invasion. I can't think of a worse place to try and polish the turd that is the Bush2 presidential legacy; a Bush2 "think tank" isn't going to do it.

That SMU treated these good people in such a way, many alumni, is truly disgraceful. There is a cloud already over the Bush2 Libarary.