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April 23, 2014

KB Home and Henry Cisneros New Subdivision Draws Protesters

Prospective Homebuyers, Protesters Mix At Grand Opening
Kaufman & Broad Subdivision Scene Of Homeowner Protest

There was a healthy turnout for the grand opening Saturday of the Lago Vista residential development — the first of homebuilder Kaufman & Broad’s planned inner-city subdivisions. But many of those lured to the homes’ unveiling weren’t the type of attendees the homebuilder had hoped to attract.

Along with prospective buyers for the newly built houses in the city’s South Side, protesters arrived to air dissatisfactions with their own Kaufman & Broad homes located elsewhere in the city. Homeowners from the Northhampton subdivision in the city’s Northeast Side have filed complaints with the builder, alleging shoddy workmanship.

Bearing protest placards, homeowners said they were there not only to highlight their own issues with the homebuilder, but to warn prospective homebuyers not to purchase houses in the homebuilders’ newest subdivision.

One of those protesting, Carla Wiese, said she recently bought a Kaufman & Broad home in the Northhampton subdivision for $110,000.

“Twenty-one days after occupancy of the house we had nine layers of brick crack over the garage,” she said. “We’re here today to make people think twice about what they’re doing.”

The Lago Vista subdivision is the first in a series of subdivisions targeting low-income homebuyers in the inner cities. The houses are being built in a joint venture with American CityVista, a company that is headed by former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros.

Cisneros, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the Clinton administration, returned to San Antonio last year with an ambitious plan of revitalizing inner-city neighborhoods throughout the country as head of American CityVista.

While his new company’s urban revitalization plan was lauded by many, some questioned the affiliation with Kaufman & Broad in light of its much-publicized battle with homeowners in the Northhampton subdivision. Homeowners there have filed formal complaints with the homebuilder, alleging problems ranging from seeping groundwater to weak foundations.

“Maybe it’s the soil,” Wiese said. “Maybe they shouldn’t have built my house there. I need answers and I need something done. My house continues to crack.”

Janet Ahmad, a member of an organization called Homeowners For Better Builders, also was there to protest.

“The builders cannot be held accountable,” she said. “That’s why people can only resort to this type of thing.”

For its part, the homebuilder denies allegations of shoddy workmanship, according to a Kaufman & Broad spokesman who was at the grand opening.

“It’s their right to be out there,” Aaron Seaman said of the protesters. “But we’re very confident in the quality of these homes that we sell. We stand by them, which is why we offer a 10-year unsurpassed warranty.”

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