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Controversial property to hit the market again

Jayme Frase, Houston Chronicle
Published 3:21 pm, Wednesday, January 15, 2014
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The Harris County Housing Authority again will attempt to sell a 91-acre Lake Houston property tied to a failed veterans housing development and at the center of two scathing federal audits.

"With the sale of this property, I expect to be able to pay HUD the full amount we owe from mismanagement of the prior administration," authority CEO Tom McCasland said.

A previous attempt to sell the lakeside land was unsuccessful.

Last June, McCasland said real estate professionals had told him the land, originally purchased for $6.5 million in 2009, may be worth as little as $3.6 million because part of the tract includes wetlands.

The listing was removed, and the housing authority worked to make the property more desirable. The agency arranged for sewage to be processed at a nearby treatment plant and adapted the wetlands mitigation plan to increase the usable acreage to about 74 acres.

Whatever money the county agency does recoup from the sale likely will be sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a payment toward the millions of dollars the federal agency demanded be repaid last year.

Two audits released in June by separate offices of the federal housing agency concluded former housing authority leaders mismanaged up to $27.5 million in federal housing funds during a three-year period ending in April 2012. The county agency contends that after cleaning up its books, it can show it owes much less than that.