Sal Teresi had hoped things would go differently back in 2007, when he evicted an estimated 250 residents of his Summer Hill apartment complex ahead of plans to build 144 condominiums on the property. At the time, in a controversial move, the City Council spent $125,000 to relocate 33 of the apartment complex's 64 households.
But as the housing market collapsed, Teresi was apparently unable to get a bank loan for his project. Then last year the city issued "cease and desist" orders on work to reoccupy the buildings with tenants, which the owner was doing without permits, officials said. The unannounced activity drew the ire of city officials, and neighbors and city code inspection officers have kept a watchful eye on Summer Hill ever since, taking note of any illegal construction work.
Still, a broker for the property, Carlos Papia of Marcus and Millichap, says there are several interested buyers for the North Whisman complex. The potential buyers want to renovate the complex's deteriorating buildings, and some would possibly redevelop the property later, Papia said.
While some neighbors say they would be glad to see the complex renovated, many would rather see it torn down. Some new neighbors were told to expect demolition when they bought one of the new "Evandale classic town homes" down the street, said resident Cynthia Imboden in an e-mail.
Since the apartments at 291 Evandale Ave. became vacant, Imboden wrote, "Our neighborhood has enjoyed a decrease in crime (proven by MVPD statistics), less traffic and overall increased pride in our neighborhood. Families are no longer afraid to have their kids play in Devonshire Park. It had become the 'turf' of the gang members residing in the Summer Hill complex."
Broker Papia said the new owners would definitely pay special attention to renovating the place.
"We're only showing it to the top guys that have a strong resume and have done miracles with rehab," he said. City attorney Michael Martello concurred that some of the interested buyers are known to be good apartment landlords in Mountain View.
The apartment complex had some of the cheapest rents in the city: $900 to $1,200 a month for two and three bedroom units. According to a December city code inspection report — which came with a two-page list of violations — "Numerous structures have rodent infestation, insect hives along with dry rot and signs of termite destruction. ... Numerous units lack working bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures, and heating devices."
The report also documents the "presence of rank odor," likely from a broken sewer line. Numerous leaking roofs have probably led to mold. Concrete stairs and metal guardrails are broken and unsafe. Other code violations include missing smoke detectors, unvented water heaters and numerous electrical violations.
The city is working with Teresi to do a seismic inspection and a mold inspection so that potential buyers can accurately assess the property's value, said planning director Randy Tsuda. Meanwhile, construction permits for those 144 condos expired in December, but an extension was filed which has yet to be approved by the city.