- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 30, 2019

HITCHCOCK, Texas (AP) - The pool is drained. The restaurant is closed. And six months after declaring businesses at Harborwalk shut down, the marina at one of the Houston-Galveston area’s most upscale waterfront communities is still mostly closed.

The Galveston County Daily News reports Paul Leviner, the owner of all commercial properties at Harborwalk in Hitchcock, says his dispute with the Flamingo Isles Municipal Utility District and the Harborwalk Property Owners Association is heading to court.

At issue are unsafe water conditions for boats entering the marina due to lack of dredging, which he says is the responsibility of the utility district; and the property owners association’s refusal to vacate commercial properties he owns, Leviner said.

The association is refusing to enforce the terms of the sale, Leviner said, and he’s hired attorneys to represent him in the matter.

“I put up nice signs that said ‘Pool Closed’ and they tore them down,” Leviner said. “I rebuilt bait facilities and offered free ice to fishermen, and they dumped it out in the middle of the night.”

Leviner said members of the utility district board, including board president Jane McKenzie, also serve on the property association board. He contends that those entities want to take the commercial properties, which he bought last year, back from him.

McKenzie could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Last fall, a significant number of boats were unable to safely dock in the marina because the district failed to dredge the harbor, Leviner said. Some of those that tried were damaged in transit, he said.

Leviner appeared before the utility district board, demanding that the harbor be dredged, threatening to close the marina if the district didn’t comply.

When his terms were not met, he closed the boat launch, marina, restaurant and swimming pool, barricading the entrances with sawhorses, padlocks, chains and ‘Keep Out’ signs.

In response, McKenzie told The Daily News that Leviner was causing a lot of confusion, and she and others were trying to work with him.

“I just wish he could be happy,” she said.

Frustrated by the failure of the utility district to dredge the channel and maintain bulkheads at Harborwalk, and alarmed by what he perceived as an attempt to run him out of business, Leviner put matters in the hands of two law firms, one from Houston and one from Galveston, he said

“I’ve hired two sets of attorneys and I guess we’re going to find out what the court has to say,” Leviner said.

The development formed in 2002 and was originally owned by Harborwalk LP with developer and Harborwalk resident Lynn Watkins at the helm.

Harborwalk LP filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2010 and was sold to a new developer, Austin-based Legend Communities, in 2012.

Leviner said he was approached by Haythem Dawlett, Legend Communities’ founder and chief executive officer, to sell the commercial properties last year, but a deal was not reached within the time limit he set.

Minutes from utility district meetings in January and February said that Dawlett, on behalf of Legend Communities, was still in negotiations with Leviner and a purchase agreement was being drafted, but Leviner denied that claim.

“I do not have an agreement with them,” Leviner said. “Any agreement I had with them expired months ago.”

Dawlett could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Leviner, who resides in Kingwood, said he purchased a home in Harborwalk last April when the marina was not selling gas because of lines in bad repair, the restaurant was closed, the swimming pools were not opened and the palm trees were dead.

He bought the commercial properties from Legend Communities after he purchased the home, he said.

“They were going to foreclose on the second developer, and they owed close to a million dollars for repairs and had no money to fix it all,” he said.

Leviner paid cash for the 150-slip marina, yacht club and pool, the restaurant building formerly occupied by Floyd’s on the Water, the ship store and welcome center, as well as real estate opposite the marina and expansion rights for the marina.

He planned to make it the premiere spot for docking on the mainland side of Galveston Bay, and he absorbed losses averaging $100,000 per month after pouring money into initial repairs and closing the marina, he said.

Right now, it’s not clear when Leviner will reopen the commercial properties.

“I just want them to follow the law, to dredge the canals and maintain the bulkheads like they’re supposed to and to not interfere with the running of a private business,” he said.


Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, http://www.galvnews.com

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