Homeowners just want resolution
When Dan Ditrich heard about a new housing development in Fall Creek Place three years ago, he was excited that the neighborhood was being restored. Subject to so much urban blight, the area had even been nicknamed “Dodge City” because of its drugs and violence. Pouring a foundation within 30 days is all it takes for a builder to meet the city’s deadline. Meanwhile, homes have taken more than two years to complete in Fall Creek Place.Though the project has been a success overall, with 192 of the projected 360 homes completed as of November 2003, a number of the buyers have seen their dream of home ownership turn into a nightmare.
Because of federal grants and incentives provided by the city, Ditrich, as a low-to-moderate-income person, had the opportunity to own a new home in a revitalized neighborhood. Like many others, he researched the development and decided he would make his home there. Two years after signing a contract with QDB Enterprises, one of nine builders in Fall Creek Place, Ditrich is still waiting to see his home completed.
Apparently QDB, owned by Anna Waggoner, got in over its head. The Fall Creek Place Annual Report dated Nov. 30, 2003, shows that QDB contracted 33 homes, but only five were completed. Twenty of the homes were listed as under construction, and eight as under contract but not started.
Others are waiting as wellOther potential homebuyers who chose QDB are still waiting to see their homes built. Tracey Turner signed a contract with QDB in March of 2002. Within 30 days, a foundation was poured. But no further work was completed. After nearly two years of repeated attempts for information from Waggoner about the slow progress, she retained an attorney to force QDB to give her a completion schedule. When that did not happen, Turner sought a release from the contract. It was granted in May of 2004.
Jennifer Green, Fall Creek Place project manager, said that since that report, 12 buyers have been released from their contracts, and the city was buying back two of the lots. Buyers observed that soon after their contracts were signed, a foundation was completed, but further work would be slow or not completed at all. Buyers attempted to contact QDB by phone and e-mail and got nowhere. “Anna wouldn’t return phone calls or e-mails,” Turner said.
Waggoner declined comment for this story.
When asked about what the buyers experienced, Green said while the city required builders to begin construction on all homes within 30 days, it had no mandatory timetable for completion. Some buyers made temporary housing arrangements since their contracts were signed. Turner has lived with family since 2002. She pays $200 a month for a storage facility. Turner has approached another builder and still hopes to make Fall Creek Place her home. But her hopefulness was tainted for a while by the inability to work with QDB. “In my opinion, Anna Waggoner of QDB Enterprises has refused to accept responsibility in any part of this mess, and she has never apologized even once for this being her fault,” Turner said.
The construction delays also have homebuyers facing the loss of financial incentives. Initially, the city provided grant and tax benefits to homebuyers whose homes were closed within certain time frames. Low-to-moderate-income homebuyers were offered down payment assistance, provided their homes closed within 18 months of signing their contract with the builder. All homeowners were offered five-year tax abatements provided their homes were closed within 18 months from the time building permits were pulled. But Green said grants extended to low-to-moderate income buyers have been “made secure.” She added, “The times have been extended again for lock in, whether or not they have moved to another builder.”
With respect to tax abatement, she said that, while these homeowners have missed the window to receive the abatement, “the lot price will be reduced by $5,000. The amount the homeowner would have paid in taxes over five years.” When informed about the proposal for reduced lot prices, homebuyer Roy Shawhan said, “My concern is that without anything in writing [from the city], we won’t receive our abatements.”
Other QDB buyers are facing foreclosure on construction loans made to Waggoner. These buyers said Waggoner suggested they take out construction loans in order to help with her company’s upfront costs and, thus, speed the building process. Now, National City Bank could send foreclosure notices if the homes aren’t closed by the end of July.
In an e-mail statement, Terri Wilson, vice president of media relations, stated, “National City is not interested in foreclosing on anyone. We are in the business of helping people become homeowners. We have given all Fall Creek borrowers in question substantial extensions to their original maturity date. We are attempting to work with each borrower individually because each situation is different. In addition, we have met with representatives of the City of Indianapolis and Mansur Development to reach a positive solution for all parties.”
That’s exactly what the people in Fall Creek Place want.