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Long-troubled Kansas City apartment complex getting upgrade

Cloverleaf Apartments has long crime history
Cloverleaf Apartments.jpg
Posted at 12:11 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 23:29:07-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s a place where there have been multiple shootings and fires, and squatters have lived in vacant apartments.

And tax dollars have helped pay for it.

However, new management took over at the Cloverleaf Apartments in September and is working on improvements for the long-troubled complex.

Dorothy Simpson has lived at Cloverleaf since 2007 and said the complex has deteriorated over the years.

"Our children are suffering, that's our future and without a future, we’re lost," Simpson said.

The complex is in an isolated, far southwestern corner of Kansas City and is largely surrounded by the city of Grandview.

Simpson told the I-Team she saw a shooting right outside her window a few months ago.

"We have people afraid to leave their homes," she said.

"It has been a high crime apartment complex as long as I can remember. I have been at South Patrol since 2013," said Sgt. Jon Cranston with the Kansas City Police Department.

KCPD data backs up Sgt. Cranston’s claim.

From January to September of 2020, KCPD records show there were 359 calls for police service to the complex.

That number is an average of 1.3 calls per day in that time period for a complex with about 200 units.

"The majority of the problems are people who don't actually live on the property or are not on the lease to live on the property but visit for extended periods of time and in some cases, they certainly do live there,” Sgt. Cranston said.

"You come in at night, you never know who's in your building," Simpson said.

In 2017, flames ripped through a Cloverleaf building, leaving 50 people homeless.

Investigators ruled the fire was caused by an electrical problem, which was no mystery to residents at that time.

“The sockets are loose. We've been calling, making you know, work orders,” Aneesha Holland said in 2017.

“Anything I would plug something in, it would short out my hallway light,” Tiffany Slaight said in 2017.

“They said it's electrical, the same electrical outlet that I called this apartment complex about last week to come and replace for me because I knew something was wrong," Nakia Rollins said in 2017.

41 Action News has also reported on three deadly shootings at Cloverleaf this year alone, and another one in August 2019.

Previous Coverage:

"And enough is enough, something has to be done," Simpson said.

Tax dollars are going towards a good chunk of the rent money tenants pay in the federally subsidized housing complex.

The Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) manages Cloverleaf’s performance-based contract for the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD.

According to HUD, those duties include responding to health and safety concerns, follow-ups on inspection reports and renewing contracts with tenants and with Stonebridge Global Partners, the Beverly Hills, California, real estate private equity firm which owns Cloverleaf.

"We had scheduled a walk through with HUD earlier this year. Then COVID came along and disrupted those plans," Sgt. Cranston said.

In an email, HUD Regional Public Affairs Officer Agatha Gutierrez acknowledged Cloverleaf has had issues with crime and squatters.

“It is our understanding that prior management was unable to hire additional staff to monitor vacant units, due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, it is also our understanding that a new property manager has been acquired by the owner starting September 6, 2020. HUD, MHDC, KCPD, and KCHD are continuing to work together to resolve these issues,” Gutierrez wrote.

"Over a year ago we made a concerted effort to partner with the management company, partner with the managers that were on-site, and ensure that they had the information and the tools to manage their property well," Sgt. Cranston said.

However, that management company is long gone.

Stonebridge Managing Partner Fouad Katan confirms there have been three management companies for Cloverleaf this year alone.

The newest one is Seldin Company.

In an email, Seldin President and CEO Alicia Stoermer Clark said her company has started or completed several projects to improve Cloverleaf, including new exterior lighting and repairs throughout the complex.

That work includes repairing 10 furnaces and replacing 12 other ones.

Clark also wrote once COVID-19 restrictions are removed, Cloverleaf managers will hold community events like barbecues and fire safety activities.

"I am going to stay here in Cloverleaf until we get what we deserve," Simpson said.

Katan said he’s pleased with the significant improvements the Seldin management team has made at Cloverleaf since taking over in September.

He also said Cloverleaf is in the best state of repair since his investment firm bought the property a few years ago.

Katan said the improvements have been self-financed by his firm and he acknowledged partners underestimated the challenges Cloverleaf faced when it was purchased.

Katan also said the complex still needs major upgrades, including a community center, in the next couple of years.

He said the key to those improvements taking place is getting tax credits and a new ownership group to implement the remodel.

Katan said he’s hoping to know if those state and federal tax credits will be approved for Cloverleaf improvements sometime in the first quarter of 2021.