Kansas City taxpayers on the hook for tearing down abandoned hotel

Posted at 1:11 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-02 00:01:18-04

It looks like a war zone right in the middle of a northeast Kansas City industrial park.

An abandoned hotel now has graffiti, broken windows, massive destruction, and it was the site of a death and numerous police calls.

A birds-eye view shot from our 41 Action News Skyhawk shows two people on top of one of the two towers, one of them taking pictures.

"It's something we're concerned about," said Mark Thomas, Vice President of Marketing for Tnemec. "We have to look at this every day that we come to work."

The hotel is right across a pond from Tnemec, a paint business in the industrial park on Universal Avenue near Interstate 435 and Front Street.

Tnemec leaders have added extra security for their building because of the hotel.

Kansas City spokesman Chris Hernandez told the 41 Action News Investigators the hotel's owner abandoned the property last fall.

Since then, despite the city boarding up the property multiple times and signs warning against trespassing, looters have come and stripped the place of valuables.

Skyhawk video shows the HVAC system on the roof has been stripped.

Pictures a viewer sent to the 41 Action News Investigators show people with cars and vans taking items like mattresses from the hotel.

"We've been very concerned about the building," Hernandez said. "The problem is as soon as we go out there and board it up, they break in again within days."

City leaders have been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to track down the owner who abandoned the property.

They have found some money at taxpayer expense to tear down the old hotel. Because the structure is so massive, the estimated cost of the demolition is $1.5 million.

Currently, the city is putting together a request for proposal for the building's demolition.

"The good news is we've finally been able to find a source of revenue to demolish the property and then we're going to sue the owner to try to recover that money," Hernandez said.

According to state records, the property is owned by PPH Realty LLC. The registered agent for the property is Kansas City attorney Richard Bryant.

The 41 Action News Investigators could not reach Bryant for comment.

Park developer Joe Lamothe said the actual owner behind that limited liability corporation is a New Yorker by the name of Andrew Marin.

Lamothe said he met with Marin multiple times several years ago when Marin was trying to promote the hotel.

"There's no question that Mr. Marin has left not only the city but the business park and business community in general kind of holding the bag here," Lamothe said.

Even if city leaders contact Marin, efforts to sue or collect money from him could prove more difficult due to the owner being in the name of an LLC.

Hernandez said new Missouri state law makes it easier to find owners whose names may not appear as the LLC's registered agent.

"When you've got an owner who's hiding behind an LLC, it's real hard to reclaim that money," Hernandez said.

The hotel didn't always look like it does now.

A YouTube video Steven Downing posted shows what the hotel used to look like in its heyday.

It included an indoor/outdoor pool. There are still signs for the pool area warning there's no lifeguard on duty and not to swim in the outside area when insulating balls are floating on the surface.

But there's no warning about a pickup truck in the outside part of the pool. The pickup truck is in the pool submerged with other trash and debris.

"I think the police would agree that it's something beyond just an eyesore; it's a safety concern for the whole area," Thomas said.

Metropolitan Community College's Business & Technology School is right across the street from the hotel.

A spokeswoman said the school's police department has been working with the Kansas City Police Department to monitor the hotel and answer calls.

KCPD records show there have been 107 calls to the hotel property in the last year.

Additionally, the body of a man believed to be a looter was found at the bottom of an elevator shaft on November 28, 2016.

Marin's name is listed on elevator inspection records for the hotel.

City leaders say along with going after Marin for the money to tear down the hotel, they say he owes about $150,000 in unpaid water bills.