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2011-01-27

What's next for Bandera's Old Texas Square?

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

When officials with Ozona National Bank took possession of the Old Texas Square complex in Bandera on Wednesday, Jan. 19, they were taken aback by the condition of the complex as well as with items purportedly missing.
Present during the walk-through were Ozona Bank Senior Vice President Rick Tatum and attorney Cynthia Cox Payne, who represented the bank in the recent eviction proceedings against former owner, Jerry Reed. Also on hand were law enforcement officers Precinct 4 Constable Rod Chalmers; Precinct 1 Constable Phil Tobin; and Bandera Police Department Sgt. James Brantley and Officer Kendall Wells.
After the inspection, Tatum spoke with officers about the missing items, which included a quantity of liquor. In fact, the only booze left on the property appeared to be an empty bottle of brandy on a table in the once-upon-a-time deli.
According to Brantley, thieves and vandals had gained entrance to the supposedly secure facility through a back door leading to the kitchen of the former Texaritas restaurant. "Locks were cut," he said.
In an interview, Brantley said the police department has supplied Tatum with an informational report stating that the locks had been cut and some personal items "not attached to the building" were missing. "The report will protect the bank from any future claims," Brantley explained.
Regarding broken doors inside the complex, Brantley said that some internal locks had already been changed and the intruders had cut locks and destroyed the doors to enter secured areas inside the building.
"After the trial earlier this month, the place was in limbo. Our directions were that we couldn't keep anybody out - the former owner or bank employees," he said. "We were just asked to make note of who was leaving with what." According to Brantley, however, city law enforcement officers did not observe anyone in or around the property during that time.
He indicated that a local contractor had been hired to secure vulnerable areas of the combo hotel and restaurant with plywood. In addition, all the locks would be re-keyed to prevent unauthorized entry, Payne said.
During a trial in municipal court on Jan. 6, the bank was awarded possession of the complex. Last September, Ozona National Bank, which held the original note on the property, foreclosed on its lien securing the note. Neither Reed nor his representative was present during the civil proceedings in January.
Therefore, Municipal Judge Lynn Holt issued a default judgment against Reed and his company, BI Quad, LLC, requiring Reed to surrender possession of the Texas Square complex. A subsequently ordered writ of possession essentially sealed the deal in the bank's favor.
According to Payne, the bank is hoping to sell the block-long complex to recoup some of the money it has tied up in the property. "It's definitely for sale, but I don't know how much active marketing the bank is doing at this time," she said. "I know they've had several enquiries about the property."
In an earlier interview, City Administrator Gene Foerster noted that the city was going to take what he described as "a proactive stance" with regard to the property. "We're concerned about occupancy of the building. Code deficiencies must be corrected before the building can be occupied again. There are problems that need to be rectified."
According to Brantley, workers with Bandera Electrical Cooperative had pulled the meters from told Texas Square at the request of the city.
Regarding the city's new hard line stance, Payne said it would be the responsibility of new owners to bring the property up to city codes. As she noted, "The bank has no intention of operating the facility."

Pictured: When officials entered Old Texas Square, a one-time combo motel, bar, eatery and music venue that sprawls along 703 Main Street between Cherry and Oak streets, they encountered broken doors and areas where purportedly rented surveillance equipment had been removed.