Developers charged for failed work at Citadel
In stalled East Side project, two men allegedly did not properly inspect for asbestos or have it removed safely.
Two developers who promised an $85 million retail jewel in a blighted East Side neighborhood instead face criminal charges that they degraded the environment.
A federal grand jury in Kansas City on Tuesday charged William M. Threatt Jr., 69, former president of the Community Development Corp. of Kansas City, and Anthony Crompton, 40, a real estate director at the agency, with improperly removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials.
The charges allege that during redevelopment at the 250,000-square-foot site from April 2001 through July 2006, Threatt and Crompton failed to properly inspect for asbestos inside structures that were being demolished or ensure that it was being removed safely. The developers also failed to properly dispose of the material, according to court records.
On Tuesday afternoon, Threatt said he did not know that he had been charged and he de-
clined to comment further. Crompton could not be reached for comment.
Instead of providing a positive economic engine for the area near 63rd Street and Prospect Avenue, the troubled Citadel Plaza project has become a symbol of mismanagement, blight and environmental risk in the urban core.
Neighbors of the Citadel Plaza have been waiting for years for the land to be developed. Paul Tancredi, president of the Blue Hills Neighborhood Association, said he didn’t know if the indictments would help move the project forward in any way.
“I would like to see something productive done with that land,” he said Tuesday.
Because Congress has determined that asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant, the charges came under the federal Clean Air Act.
Plans for the project called for a 35-acre shopping center, including a full-service grocery, restaurants, other retailers and residential living.
In 2006, The Kansas City Star found that scores of homes had been demolished and no asbestos permits had been obtained nor had the asbestos been properly contained.
The neighborhood was littered with building materials that had been crunched and left in huge piles on sites and in nearby woods. Some houses had been demolished so long before that weeds had grown in a canopy over the debris.
Threatt, a longtime developer, told The Star at the time that he never knew that federal, state and local laws required asbestos inspections.
Bill Worley, owner of Kingston Environmental who Threatt then hired to assess the problem, said his workers found the site “absolutely shocking.”
In 2007 the Missouri Department of Natural Resources reached a settlement with the Community Development Corp. of Kansas City, also known as CDC-KC, for violating state asbestos laws.
The agreement called for CDC-KC to pay $450,000, including a $50,000 civil penalty to the Jackson County school fund and $300,000 that the developer would spend removing asbestos.
In addition, the development company agreed to spend $100,000 on green initiatives that promised to turn Citadel Plaza into one of the most visionary environmental projects in the city. That never happened. Citadel made two installment payments on the penalty and did minimal remediation work, said Judd Slivka, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources.
A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment.
The Missouri attorney general’s office has filed an action against Citadel for not completing the agreement.
Neighbors complained last summer that weeds and trash covered the proposed shopping center site. When city crews went in to mow, the site was so contaminated with asbestos that they had to wear protective respirators.
The city and the Tax Increment Financing Commission have terminated the financial and development agreements with CDC-KC to renovate the
The $85 million Citadel Plaza project called for a 35-acre shopping center that would include a full-service grocery, restaurants, other retailers and residential living. Instead, asbestos problems developed.