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Houck: Business has never been stronger

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Developer sells older property for $1.8 million, building new

By Forrest Berkshire, Editor

Houck Rentals recently sold off a sizable chunk of its real estate holdings, but its embattled owner said those sales were a sign of his business’ strength rather than a sign of trouble.

Brooks Houck sold 24 properties Aug. 23 for more than $1.8 million to another local real estate rental holding company, Triple Crown Rentals.

Houck told The Standard that the sale was a mix of tax planning and shedding old properties to take on new.

“All that stuff was 50-75 years old,” Houck said. “I was just doing tax planning.”

He said much of the depreciation on the property had run its course and he was preparing for capital gains taxes on other projects.

“I’m replacing all my old property with brand-new property.”

Some of those new projects include new home construction in the Cottage Grove area west of Bloomfield Road, as well as an expansion of Copperfield subdivision.

Records with the Joint City-County Planning Commission show Houck has applied for 10 building permits in the Cottage Grove area for new construction and has received preliminary approval May 22 for a plat of 49 lots in Copperfield.

Houck said his businesses were thriving.

“My business has never been stronger,” he said.

Houck owns the rental business as well as a construction business, Select Quality Homes. As of this summer, county property and tax records indicated Houck’s businesses owned at least 130 parcels of property.

Some of those properties Houck sold represented properties he had owned for many years, some as far back as 2005. Houck has been in the rental and real estate development business in Nelson County since the mid-2000s, and his business Houck Rentals was formed in May 2007.

He acknowledged that the recent sale had sparked rumors that he was facing financial difficulty or liquidating his assets.

“They’ll probably say I am selling out and fleeing the state,” he said. “I know all the wild stories are out there. But it’s been about three years since everything happened, and if somebody will study kind of my business habits, by the time it makes it to you all and the paper and it’s public record, if people are keeping up with me as a means of that, they’re way behind the eight ball because I move a whole lot faster. My deals are already done and complete before you all ever figure out what I’ve done.”

Houck is a named suspect in the July 2015 disappearance and presumed death of his former girlfriend, Crystal Rogers. He has been a developer and landlord for more than a dozen years in the Bardstown area. Since Rogers’ disappearance, Houck has been the subject not only of law enforcement’s attention but also Rogers’ family and supporters, who have waged a public effort to keep the spotlight of suspicion focused squarely on him. Those efforts have borne fruit, most recently resulting in national cable TV broadcasts this past summer focusing on Rogers’ disappearance.

Houck has not been charged with any crimes related to Rogers’ disappearance. But in July of this year, a grand jury indicted Houck on four counts of felony theft for allegedly stealing roofing shingles from the Bardstown Lowe’s home improvement store. Houck pleaded not guilty, and a jury trial is scheduled for January 2019 on those charges.