The feds finally caught up with Citadel Plaza's developers.
A federal grand jury indicted William M. Threatt Jr. and Anthony Crompton Tuesday for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act by improperly removing and disposing of asbestos-containing materials from April 2001 to July 2006 at the midtown Kansas City site located at the corner of 63rd and Prospect.
But we already had an idea of what was going on at Citadel Plaza.
The indictment alleges that Threatt and Crompton failed to give advance
written notice to the Environmental Protection Agency or the Missouri
Department of Natural
Resources about their plans to demolish and renovate a building
containing asbestos, the project's dates and their planned methods. They
also are accused of not properly inspecting the site for asbestos and
removing asbestos-contaminated material before starting work, as well as a
bunch of other asbestos issues.
In January 2008, then-Pitch writer Carolyn Szczepanski wrote
about the "contaminated mess" and the taxpayer dollars wasted on
the project. She cited a May 2007 interview with Threatt in which he
scoffed at reports of asbestos
"It's a technical item," he told The Pitch.
"We're talking about charred little pieces of hard asbestos siding
or floor tiles that should have been -- we find out after the fact --
remediated, taken off before and, for various reasons, wasn't."
as Szczepanski reported, the contamination was real and
Kingston Environmental Services found asbestos in 11 of 12
standing structures and on nearly all of the recently cleared lots. Kingston
also found asbestos buried as deep as 6 inches underground and
suggested that there could be hidden contamination on older lots
overgrown with vegetation.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued citations in early
2007; in September, the still-unresolved issue moved up the legal chain
to the state Attorney General's Office.
An investigation by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency is ongoing.
In February, Szczepanski cataloged
the broken promises made by the CDC-KC to business owners
near the the $106 million Citadel Plaza. And it's not like the city
didn't know what was going on:
As a partner, the city advanced the CDC-KC nearly $5 million from
2005 through 2007 to buy up and tear down housing in the Citadel
footprint. At the same time, though, city leaders made a habit of
turning a blind eye to recurring missteps by the CDC-KC: a habit of not
paying its property taxes, a history of defaulting on loans, a track
record littered with lawsuits. In 2006, state regulators cracked down on
the CDC-KC for improperly handling dangerous asbestos in the demolition
of houses, saddling the group with expensive cleanup costs and a
$450,000 financial settlement. In 2007, the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development raised questions about
how the corporation was spending federal dollars.
Threatt's tenure as president of CDC-KC was nothing short of disastrous,
leaving a wake of pissed-off homeowners, multimillion-dollar lawsuits
and an asbestos-contaminated wasteland -- one that was supposed to be a $90
million shopping complex. He and Crompton face up to seven years in federal prison
without parole as well as fines of up to $500,000.