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John McCartney and Herald staff | jmccartney@heraldnet.com
Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013, 5:34 p.m.

City contractor tears down wrong house

  • Only the slab remains of the Lake Worth area home owned by David Underwood Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas.

    AP

    Only the slab remains of the Lake Worth area home owned by David Underwood Wednesday in Fort Worth, Texas.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Whoops!

City officials are trying to figure out what happened after contract crews tore down the wrong home in Fort Worth on July 12. They were supposed to wreck a condemned house next door.

It'??s obviously a series of mistakes, and ww'??re working to be right by it, Councilman Dennis Shingleton, whose district includes the Lake Worth-area home at 9716 Watercress Drive, said Wednesday.

David Underwood, the property owner and the development director for the United Community Centers nonprofit in Fort Worth, said the home had been in his family for years.

He and his wife have put their home in southwest Fort Worth up for sale and were planning to move to the Watercress home, Underwood said. The house once belonged to Underwood'??s grandmother. The couple bought it from his aunt this year, and it was vacant.

The couple discovered the razing Saturday after returning Friday night from a trip to Boston and dropping by the house to mow the lawn, Underwood said.

"??We hadn'??t been by in a month,"?Ě he said.

What they found: a slab and a mailbox with the address number -- but no home.

"I can literally remember sitting on the counter when I was a little kid, and my grandmother would cook breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever,"?Ě Underwood said.

The home that the contractor was hired to tear down, next door at 9708 Watercress Drive, was still standing.

Shingleton, whose assistant took Underwood'??s call Monday and helped direct him, said workers from the demolition contractor appear to have marked the wrong house.

The city, in a statement issued this week to KDFW-TV, which first reported the story, said: "??On July 12, 2013, contractors demolished the wrong property on Watercress Drive. The property to be demolished should have been 9708 Watercress Dr. The property that was demolished was a vacant structure located at 9716 Watercress Drive. City staff is meeting to determine what happened."

City spokesman Bill Begley said Wednesday that Fort Worth is still investigating. It'??s due to pay the contractor $6,070, he said.

The city has asked Underwood to put a value on the house and is examining what it thinks the building was worth, Underwood said.

The 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, one-bath home, built in 1951, carries a $122,200 market value on the Tarrant Appraisal District website -- $82,200 in improvements and a $40,000 lot value. The TAD site says the property had no garage; Underwood says it did.

The couple had been considering upgrading the home, which Underwood said had no code complaints. He said he isn'??t clear on what it will cost to rebuild.

A neighboring property owner called the city during the demolition to say it was tearing down the wrong house, and crews stopped short of taking out the slab, Underwood said.

"??So one of the questions I have is, Are you going to take the slab up now?â?" he said.

Underwood is hoping for a quick settlement.

?"If the cityâ??s already admitted fault, the only question is the amount of the damage," he said.



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