Well, OK, sometimes it’s referred to as the Startlegram, Snort-a-gram, or Cluelessgram, but you get the idea. So wasn’t it rude when the Snootygram published a story about two historic buildings near Henderson and West Seventh streets, and all it said about the one at 1204 W. 7th St. was that it is “well maintained and has a tenant”? That would be us, of course. Far be it from Static to retort that a certain building a little further east on Seventh currently has a tenant as well, although that tenant’s parent company, Knight Ridder, is for sale, and who knows, the prospective new owner might move the troops to a strip mall someday soon.
Hicks in Hicksville
Back in 1994, Arlington residents were grousing about the name given to the Texas Rangers’ new stadium – The Ballpark in Arlington. “How mundane,” the edumacated among us said. “Effing boring as hell,” the rest of us said. But something happened during the next decade – everyone fell in love with the name, especially after ballparks nationwide began selling their naming rights to the highest bidders. “The Ballpark in Arlington – how classy and cool,” we all finally said in unison, like little Whos in Whoville. Ten years passed, and then owner Tom Hicks began shopping the name, and everyone quivered at thoughts of Charmin Field, Viagra Park, or perhaps Poulan Weed Eater Stadium. Unfortunately, the ultimate tag – Ameriquest Field – was just about as bad.
Jump ahead to 2006. More than one thousand houses are facing auction on the Tarrant County courthouse steps next month, the highest number in more than a decade and up 28 percent from a year ago. Our cover story “Wolves in Small Print” (Aug. 10, 2005) pointed out that one of the reasons for such high foreclosure rates was big mortgage companies steering homeowners into loans they could not afford, mostly in refinance situations. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and other AGs across the country targeted Ameriquest Mortgage Corp. for its predatory lending practices, and they reached a financial settlement with the company this week. Ameriquest will pay out $325 million – most of it to help harmed consumers. An estimated $18 million in refunds is coming to Texas homeowners who refinanced through Ameriquest since January 1999.
“These consumers’ goal was to lower their monthly mortgage payments and consolidate some existing credit card or other consumer debt in the process,” Abbott said in announcing the deal. “Ameriquest, however, exploited this need, convincing homeowners the refinancing option would greatly benefit them, when in fact the opposite happened. The company pushed its employees to achieve high sales quotas and unrealistic sales commissions, all to the detriment of these homeowners.”
Of course, Ameriquest’s name will remain on The Ballpark in Arlington. The 30-year-deal started in 2004, costing the loan company $75 million in naming rights. Maybe the Rangers should just change the name to Foreclosure Field.