Earlier today, I asked Chris Heinbaugh, Mayor Tom Leppert's chief of staff, why the City Attorney's Office sent a letter to Leobardo Trevino, in which the new owner of 1600 Pacific Avenue was warned to clean up dozens of code violations or face fines (up to $1,000 a day per each penalty) and a potential lawsuit. The missive -- which can be found after the jump, along with several others sent to owners of vacant downtown buildings -- is part of Mayor Tom Leppert's attempt to get their owners to either clean up or sell out. This initiative began in October 2008; this morning, the mayor announced Phase II.
It seemed a little odd to target Trevino, considering he only bought the former LTV Tower in October and had been working with the Office of Economic Development about rehabbing the beleaguered building. As Trevino told Unfair Park two weeks ago, he's turning the place into the Grand Ricchi Dallas, which will consist of restaurants, retail and lux condos for, mainly, "people from Mexico who want to have another place." Heinbaugh said to speak with Perkins.
"It was identified on the list, and to the extent it is being rehabbed, we will work with him," Perkins told Unfair Park when asked why his office is threatening Trevino with fines and litigation. "I would think this would be quickly resolved if it is, in fact, being rehabbed."
As we noted earlier this month, Karl Zavitkovsky, head of Economic Development, has been working with Trevino to procure, pending city council's approval, $13 million in TIF incentives through the Downtown Connection Tax Increment Financing District. As Trevino mentioned, his redo will be floor by floor, but he's already begun gutting the building in advance of environmental remediation. He tells Unfair Park today he's already cleared out the 18th and 30th floors, and that "within six months, the whole thing will be concrete."
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"I understand their position," Trevino says of the letter from the city attorney. "If the building is out of code, the risk is high, and the city can't have the liability. We're doing the demolition, and we've already surveyed the building. We're taking all precautions to avoid any unnecessary risk. I am not unhappy [with the city]. I know there are rules that have to be followed. We're trying to do the best we can, and, hopefully, we can meet the requirements."
If that's the case, says Perkins, "then this will be resolved, and we'll work with the property owners as we have the others."