Local business owners share concerns about people living in abandoned hotel

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Some business owners near West Tyler Avenue say that up to 40 people are living in an abandoned hotel, and they are asking the city to do something about it.

“It is kind of scary to operate a business around that area, and having who knows how many homeless folks living in that area,” said Jay, who asked to keep his full name and the business concealed.

Although Su Casa Garden Inn has been abandoned for many years, Jay told KVEO that business owners in the area started to notice more people living in the building once the pandemic started.

Jay and other businesses are afraid to speak up because they say the people they believe are living there will retaliate, and in some cases, have already caused some trouble.

“I have heard of a restaurant nearby getting broken into and they have stolen things including pantry items,” said Jay.

One business, which did not want to be on the record, sent in photos from surveillance footage showing what they believe to be people who live in that building.

Though Jay said he has called the police,

When Jay reached out to the police, they said that can’t do anything unless the owner of the building reaches out to PD.

KVEO called Harlingen Police Department, but they said that they have not received any complaints this year regarding Su Casa Inn.

I ran a search on the address 1861 W. Tyler Ave. the old Su Casa Hotel. We have not received any calls at that location this year.

Sgt. Larry Moore, Harlingen Police Department

A similar response came from the City of Harlingen which declined an interview.

As stated earlier today, the Harlingen Police Department does not have reports from neighboring businesses regarding the property in question. It is important to note that a business can ask a customer to leave and or call the police if they are feeling threatened or a crime has been committed. A closed property can be deemed a health hazard if it becomes uninhabitable. Should that happen, the City will contact the owner on record.

Irma Garza, Public Information Officer of the City of Harlingen

Jay told KVEO that he has also attempted to reach out to the owner of the property, but he doesn’t know what to do.

“We did contact the owner and he has said that he’s tried to contact the cops and get them involved but he’s said he has a hard time getting anything done,” said Jay.

Before this story aired, the city of Harlingen reached back to KVEO with an update, stated below:

We have identified a new owner.  One of our code Enforcement Officers went out there and conducted a visual exterior inspection and it does appear that a structure on the property that appears to be unsafe which can be considered a violation of the 2018 International Property Maintenance Code.  A notice is going out today informing the owner that they have 10 days to correct the violation or face a citation that could be up to $2,000 per day the violation remains.

Irma Garza, Public Information Officer of the City of Harlingen
Credit: KVEO Iris Karami; Pictured: Jay

Editor’s Note: This story first stated the City of Harlingen reached out to KVEO after the story aired. However, city officials provided a statement just before the story aired.

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