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Gabriel Tower landlord remains in default of agreement with city agency

gabriel tower
Posted at 5:18 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 18:18:44-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The company that manages Gabriel Tower, an apartment building that houses elderly and disabled residents, remains in default of its agreement with a city agency.

The decision came Wednesday during a meeting of the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA) Board meeting.

Last month, board members decided The Millennia Companies had breached its contract due to the conditions at the apartment building.

Millennia was given a 45-day cure period to address the nearly 60 violations that Healthy Homes inspectors found, as well as mold issues identified by a third-party company.

Brian Engel, counsel for the board, said during Wednesday's meeting that all of the Healthy Homes violations have been fixed. However, upon reinspection, several new issues were discovered.

Lee Felgar, president of Millennia Housing Management, said the company is working to fix the additional violations.

Felgar also said Millennia is working to secure low-income housing tax credits for a major, yearlong rehabilitation of Gabriel Tower. The refinancing is expected to be complete later in 2021. At that point, Millennia would reacquire the title for the property from the LCRA.

That means the company would no longer receive a property tax break, and the LCRA would not have oversight over Gabriel Tower.

In light of the work Millennia has completed at the building, Roxsen Koch, an attorney for the company, asked the board on Wednesday to rescind the previously issued notice of default.

However, after hearing from both Millennia and Gabriel Tower tenants, the board declined to do so, instead leaving the default notice in place.

Members of the Gabriel Tower Tenants Union described ongoing issues with mold in the building, as well as water damage in units.

Nearly all of the tenants who spoke described communication with the property manager as nonexistent.

“They don’t respect us as people,” Ron McMillan, of the Gabriel Tower Tenants Union, said, “Seniors' lives matter too.”

Meanwhile, Felgar called for more mutual respect after one tenant said the property manager was a woman “from hell.”

“I know conditions have been difficult, and I’m sorry,” Felgar said, “But everything we’re doing is to make it better.”

The LCRA board called on Millennia to “work in good faith” with tenants moving forward.

Felgar said he has visited Gabriel Tower four times and works on the project daily, but the tenants union said he has never met with them during those visits.

According to KC Tenants, Felgar did commit to a meeting in three weeks.

The LCRA board will continue to monitor the building’s maintenance until the title is transferred.