De­vel­op­ers charged for failed work at Ci­tadel

The Kansas City Star (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By MARK MOR­RIS, KAREN DIL­LON and LYNN HORS­LEY

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

FILE PHOTO BY JILL TOYOSHIBA | THE KANSAS CITY STAR

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.

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