Home Top Stories The new landlord of Independence Towers is facing demands from tenants, days...

The new landlord of Independence Towers is facing demands from tenants, days after a fire displaced dozens of homes

The new landlord of Independence Towers is facing demands from tenants, days after a fire displaced dozens of homes

Tenants at the troubled Independence Towers apartment complex began their week dealing with the chaos of a fire and wrapped it up in negotiations with their new landlord just before learning that a fellow resident was charged with arson.

On Thursday, the Independence Towers Tenant Union, along with the KC Tenants Union, brought in vice president of TriGild Inc. Nancy Daniels to the negotiating table, in an attempt to resolve complaints about living conditions in the building.

“I was really proud of myself and everyone else who was able to speak about the terms of Independence Towers and our own personal experiences, and I’m glad we were able to come to the negotiating table with TriGild and get some of our demands met. “, resident Anna Heetmann told The Star.

The negotiations came after a fire, now suspected to be arson, displaced 27 residents from three floors of the building on Monday.

Fire damage sustained at Independence Towers on June 17, 2024, after firefighters were called to extinguish an early morning fire in a second-floor apartment, forcing tenants in 27 apartment units spread over three floors to flee their homes.

On Friday, Destiny R. Kley, 22, a building resident, was charged in Jackson County District Court with first-degree arson. She was being held on a $50,000 bond and has been ordered to remain at least 1,000 feet away from the Independence Towers, according to charging documents.

Kley told police investigators that she poured cleaning fluid around the kitchen stove and turned on the stove, causing the fire, according to court documents.

She said she set the fire with the intention of killing herself and destroying the property she and her husband shared, court records show. Her husband, with whom Kley shared the apartment at 728 N Jennings Rd, was arrested three hours before the fire after Kley called Independence police to report a domestic disturbance.

Independence fire investigators confirmed the fire was caused by someone pouring flammable liquid on the fire and then igniting it, according to court documents. The Independence city manager’s office stated that the first and second floors, along with the basement, were condemned due to smoke and fire damage.

‘Fight for our health and safety’

Meanwhile, other residents still in the building continue to live without air conditioning as the Missouri summer heat enters dangerous territory.

Earlier this year, tenants struggled with mouse and cockroach infestations and a lack of hot water.

“I think the most frustrating thing for people was not having an agreement on the specific date that the air conditioning would be repaired, otherwise every tenant would be guaranteed air conditioning in the building,” said Justin Stein, a leader at KC Tenants. .

Daniels initially failed to meet the union’s June 11 deadline to turn on the air conditioning. But she did promise to fix the air conditioning, either by replacing the cooler or by giving each resident a window unit, Stein said.

A boarded up window is seen at the Independence Towers on Tuesday, March 19, 2024 in Independence, Mo.

In addition to fixing the air conditioning, residents demanded that Daniels compensate tenants for the fire, roll back and freeze all rent increases, freeze evictions and displacements and recognize the union, Stein said.

Daniels did not agree to negotiate a collective lease agreement with the building, or to waive rent and fees for tenants because of the fire, or to refrain from evicting residents, Stein said. However, Daniels agreed to work with residents on a case-by-case basis regarding rent and payment plans.

A Jackson County judge appointed property management company TriGild Inc. on May 16. became receiver of the property after former owner FTW Investments and director Parker Webb failed to repay a loan and complete maintenance of the building, according to previous reporting by The Star.

“Parker Webb never showed up for us,” Heetmann said. “Parker Webb never even responded when we sent him our list of demands. He just pretended we didn’t exist. I am grateful to Nancy for actually meeting with us and taking the time to hear what we had to say.”

Earlier this year, a Jackson County judge set aside the former construction company Tango Management, owned by FTW Investments and Parker Webb, after the union reported poor living conditions in the building.

“I just wanted to say that I am very proud of my neighbors and everyone who has come together to work on this and fight for our health and safety in our building,” Stephens said. “Because I know that if we hadn’t organized and formed our union, we wouldn’t even be having these conversations right now. We would all still be a bunch of individuals going crazy and dying in the heat.”

Heetmann said that before she came to work at KC Tenants, she didn’t really know anyone in the building and struggled with feeling isolated because of the problems in her apartment.

‘But now this [I’ve discussed these issues with my neighbors]and now that I see these issues impacting not only me, but virtually everyone who lives in Independence Towers, it has really shown me that it is important, the work that we do,” she said.

The union is prepared to “publicly escalate” if Daniels does not follow through on the promises she made at Thursday’s meeting, Heetmann said.

Nancy Daniels did not immediately respond to The Star’s request for comment.

This story draws on previous reporting by The Star’s Noelle Alviz-Gransee and Ilana Arougheti.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Exit mobile version