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Unfinished charter school becomes neighborhood eyesore in southeast Harris County

HOUSTON – Some neighbors in southeast Harris County said an unfinished charter school building has become an eyesore.

“It just looks horrible for our community,” said neighbor Sylvia Rodriguez.

Construction work on Elite College Prep Academy – Riverstone, on Riverstone Ranch Drive at Kirksage Drive, was never completed. Neighbors said the project has dragged on for years.

Another neighbor, Danielle Amaya, said she isn’t waiting around to see the project get finished. She’s selling her home.

“We would love to stay here. It’s just not feasible for us anymore with this school here if they’re not going to complete it or take it down,” Amaya said.

The Houston Gateway Academy charter group is behind the project.

“Our hope is to have this completed as soon as possible,” said Bob Wynne, attorney for HGA.

The last general contractor left the job in 2018 after a dispute over payment, which turned into a lawsuit, Wynne said. The school is now looking for a new company and project manager to continue the work, which could resume in a few months, he said.

“We’re sorry that it’s been a bother or purported eyesore to the neighbors, that was never our intention,” Wynne said. “But we do have full intentions and we do have the ability, and the financial capacity to finish this project.”

Rodriguez said she’s had enough.

“Get this thing out of here,” said Rodriguez, who opposed the project because of concerns about traffic.

The Texas Education Agency said its approval to open the campus ended in 2018 when the campus failed to open, and subsequent requests were denied.

The former superintendent was indicted for embezzlement last year. Wynne said the state was not going to allow the charter to expand while that investigation was happening.

However, Wynne said construction can continue and the charter plans to ask the state to reconsider the decision so it can open up.