Deal signed, but prob­lems far from over at com­plex

Engi­neers will sur­vey the build­ing; the po­ten­tial buyer will weigh re­pairs.

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - Byjazmine ul­loa jul­loa@states­man.com Con­tact Jazmine Ul­loa at 445-3763. Twit­ter: @ jazmineul­loa states­man.com. jschwartz@states­man.com states­man.com. Con­tact Jeremy Schwartz at 912-2942.

A prospec­tive buyer has emerged for the prob­lem-rid­den Wood Ridge Apart­ments in South­east Austin, where a walk­way col­lapse in May prompted dozens of ten­ants to evac­u­ate.

Ge­orge Som­merville, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the pos­si­ble buyer, de­scribed the con­tract be­tween the two par­ties as “a mov­ing tar­get” in an up­date Mon­day to the Austin Build­ing and Stan­dards Com­mis­sion. He de­clined to pub­licly dis­close his client’s name, say­ing the me­dia frenzy over the case could dis­tract from ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“It is a lit­tle bit of a del­i­cate dance,” he told the com­mit­tee on what could be said to ten­ants about the progress. The agree­ment signed Dec. 3 in­cludes sev­eral con-

SRead pre­vi­ous cov­er­age of the Wood Ridge Apart­ments with this story at to buy the com­plex. He also told the com­mis­sion that the orig­i­nal prop­erty owner has freed up some money to be­gin some of the re­pairs, though Som­merville said he did not know how much.

No one was in­jured in the May 17 col­lapse at Wood Ridge, 1900 Bur­ton Drive, but more than 160 res­i­dents were tem­po­rar­ily evac­u­ated.

Five months later, af­ter the com­plex racked up more than 700 vi­o­la­tions, all of the walk­ways have had tem­po­rary shoring, and code of­fi­cials say the grounds are safe. But the build­ings will re­main sub­stan­dard un­til per­ma­nent re­con­struc­tion work is un­der­taken, and the cur­rent own­ers say they don’t have the fi­nan­cial means to make that hap­pen. Jones stepped down to run un­suc­cess­fully for the Texas Se­nate.

Gar­cia’s term was set to ex­pire at the end of the year, but he re­signed Dec. 7.

The new mil­i­tary judge in the 2009 Fort Hood shoot­ing case has called a sched­ul­ing hear­ing for next Tues­day, the first hear­ing since a mil­i­tary ap­peals court re­moved the orig­i­nal judge, Col. Gre­gory Gross, for the ap­pear­ance of bias ear­lier this month.

But ex­perts say the sched­ul­ing or­der does not nec­es­sar­ily mean the long-de­layed court-mar­tial is im­mi­nent. Col. Tara Os­born, ap­pointed to the case last week, still needs to rule on the is­sue that led to Gross’s re­moval: whether shoot­ing sus­pect Maj. Ni­dal Hasan will be al­lowed to keep his beard.

Hasan, who faces the death penalty on 13 counts of pre­med­i­tated mur­der and 32 counts of at­tempted pre­med­i­tated mur­der, be­gan grow­ing a beard be­fore the court-mar­tial was sched­uled to be­gin in Au­gust. Hasan ar­gued the beard, which vi­o­lates Read pre­vi­ous cov­er­age of the case with this story at Army groom­ing reg­u­la­tions, is pro­tected by laws gov­ern­ing re­li­gious lib­erty. Gross dis­agreed and held Hasan in con­tempt of court numer­ous times be­fore he was re­moved by the United States Court of Ap­peals for the Armed Ser­vices, which ruled “it could rea­son­ably ap­pear to an ob­jec­tive observer that the mil­i­tary judge had al­lowed the pro­ceed­ings to be­come a duel of wills be­tween him­self and (Hasan).”

But the court did not weigh in on the beard is­sue. “That to me is the most frus­trat­ing part of the whole thing, that the (ap­peals) court has punted and said ‘Let’s start over,’” said Ge­of­frey Corn, a mil­i­tary law ex­pert at South Texas Col­lege of Law.

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