Richmond Heights

The Millionaire Pothole Fund

Artemis Holdings co-owner James Ryan Redlingshafer Sr. lives behind these locked gates in Country Life Acres.

In this season of giving, it should warm the cockles of our hearts to know that the Missouri Department of Transportation has not forsaken the wealthiest of St. Louis County residents.

Although the millionaire denizens of the village of Country Life Acres in St. Louis County only received a small gift from MoDot last year, it’s the thought that counts.

In 2019, MoDot provided $2,964.20 to the exclusive gated community that prohibits public access to its roads. The total tax dollars annually doled out by the state transportation agency to this millionaires’ pothole fund is based on a formula that divvies up a combination of state revenue sources among cities based on population. Country Life Acres, with a population of 74, received public funds despite being a private enclave because it incorporated as a municipality in 1949. This qualifies the uber-rich subdivision to get a cut of the state fuel tax, vehicle sales tax and motor vehicle fees. Approximately, two-thirds of that money came from the state fuel tax.

When asked to explain why a private community is entitled to public funding of its roadways, a spokesman for MoDot suggested contacting state legislators about the issue. “Although in certain situations, as the one you describe, it may feel unfair, our elected lawmakers set it up in that way,” says Ryan Percy, the MoDot engineer assigned to Southwest St. Louis County. “They may be able to give you a better feel for why the law is set up this way, or perhaps, consider working with their counterparts to adjust the law.”

One of the village trustees is James Ryan Redlingshafer Sr., who purchased his five-acre estate in 2016 for $3.8 million. Redlingshafer is co-owner, with his son, of Artemis Holdings, a limited liability corporation cited for violations of building and environmental laws by the city of Richmond Heights and the St. Louis County Department of Public Health earlier this year. The health department issued Artemis Holdings a Notice of Violation for skirting federal environmental law pertaining to asbestos abatement involving the renovation of an apartment building in Richmond Heights. Artemis Holdings was also fined by the city of Richmond Heights for not obtaining a $70 building permit for the same building.

The trustee post is an elected position. That means Redlingshafer — a public official — owns a company that violated the law in another municipality located in the same county.

This bizarre circumstance can be largely attributed to the balkanized makeup of St. Louis County, which has 90 municipalities that are akin to fiefdoms. In this archaic system, wealthy landlords reap windfalls profits with few if any restrictions, as if they were midieval aristocrats exploiting their serfs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Realty

The phone number for Land and Apartments LLC sports a 314 Area Code, giving apartment hunters the perception they are calling a local real estate office. Instead, they’re being patched into the amorphous world of the Internet, where cloud-based communications are a tad more hazy.     

Bad sign: After tenants began asking questions about the interior demolition of a Richmond Heights apartment building, Land and Apartments belatedly incorporated.

If you’re interested in renting an apartment in St. Louis from Land and Apartments LLC, the real estate investment firm’s phone number is 314-800-0424. When you call that sequence of numbers, a pleasant recorded voice will greet you and politely ask you to leave a message.

Land and Apartments may be in the business of renting brick and mortar properties, but its phone number isn’t tied directly to the company’s physical office. In many respects, the concept of a tangible business address is an anachronism, a quaint idea leftover from the 20th Century.  Nowadays, a disembodied, anonymous voice in the nebulous ether asks you to provide personal information and says: “Your call will be returned as soon as possible.”

Welcome to the virtual world of Voice Operated Internet Protocol.

This technological innovation allows companies to create the appearance of being a neighborly business by using a local Area Code. In reality, the corporation could be located around the corner or around the world. There is no way of knowing for sure. It’s the same technology used by Skype and Google Talk. But in this particular VOIP application, phone numbers — including geographically-based Area Codes — are bought and sold for use over the Internet by various kinds of businesses, including the phone sex trade.

Three different online reverse phone directory searches indicate that 314-800-0424 belongs “B. Honey,” who apparently used the phone number in the past. One of the reverse phone directories lists B Honey as living in Kansas City even though the 314 Area Code is associated with St. Louis. Wherever B Honey is located, it’s a safe bet the name has nothing to do with an aviary.

Sharing the same phone number with the enigmatic “B. Honey” of Kansas City may be nothing more than a fluke, but the coincidental ties to Kansas City don’t stop there.

Last name first: Honey, B

In another simple twist of fate, the organizer of Land and Apartments LLC is listed by the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office as attorney Rex A. Redlingshafer, a partner in the Kansas City branch of the Dentons law firm. Redlingshafer is the nephew and cousin of James Ryan Redlingshafer Sr. and Jr., owners of Artemis Holdings LLC.

Artemis Holdings and Land and Apartments are both involved in the controversial redevelopment of a Richmond Heights apartment building that gained media attention last month, after the companies were cited for violations of the law by municipal and county agencies. Tenants complained to  Richmond Heights and St. Louis County Public Health Department officials about conditions inside the building during its demolition. As a result, occupants were forced to move during the pandemic, including two who were more than 80 years old. Richmond Heights fined Artemis Holdings for not initially applying for a building permit and the health department issued a formal Notice of Violation for skirting a federal environmental law pertaining to asbestos testing.

The building code and environmental law violations occurred prior to Dentons filing incorporation records for Land and Apartments on Oct. 9. It is not known whether Connor O’Leary, who appears to represent both companies, is the owner of Land and Apartments. O’Leary is affiliated with a third limited liability corporation, Central Investments LLC, which is located on the second floor above the Cut N Dye Hair Salon at 1051 S. Big Bend Blvd. in Richmond Heights.

State incorporation laws still shield the owners of limited liability corporations from being identified. However, the passage of the Corporate Transparency Act earlier this month should eliminate this loophole eventually. But for now LLCs continue to operate under the cloak of anonymity nationwide. Beginning with the leak of the Panama Papers in 2016, byzantine networks of limited liability corporations have been the subject of investigations that have uncovered how such shell companies are used by the wealthy to secretly acquire real estate, hide assets, and avoid taxes. The Caribbean is one of the favorite locations used for off-shore activities, including Barbados — where Dentons — the world’s largest law firm, has a presence.

Golden Boy

31-year-old Texas millionaire Phillip A. Rose, the director of a Mexican gold mine and two St. Louis real estate corporations, has a soft spot for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and so does his daddy.

Phillip A. Rose, whose wide-ranging business interests includes St. Louis real estate and a Mexican gold mine, contributed $5,000 to Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s successful reelection campaign this year, according to campaign finance records. Rose’s father, retired Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway CEO Matthew K. Rose kicked in another $2,800 to McConnell’s coffers. The elder Rose contributed an additional $10,000 to the Kentucky Republican Party in 2020.

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) enjoying his visit to Fort Knox in 2017. Mexican gold mine owner Phillip A. Rose and his father donated  more than $17,000 to the senator’s reelection campaign and the Kentucky Republican Party this year.

The two bundled payments by Phillip A. Rose represented his only political donations during the election cycle.

Father and son own controlling interest in the San Jose de Gracia gold mine in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, which is under control of the Sinaloa Cartel. The Roses are invested in the gold mine through a limited liability company, Golden Post Rail. Golden Post Rail owns an 80 percent stake in Dallas-based DynaResource.  Since 2017, the mine has been the alleged target of a money-laundering investigation by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Mexican government, according to a press account published in La Razón newspaper in May.

McConnell did not support the Trump administration’s efforts to increase tariffs on Mexico last year.

In Missouri, Phillip A. Rose is the manager and director of two Texas-registered limited liability corporations active in real estate investment in St. Louis. His fellow manager and director in AKR Ventures LLC and RedRose Capital LLC. is James Ryan Redlingshafer Jr.

Redlingshafer Jr., 31, is also tied to another real estate business — Artemis Holdings LLC — with his father, James Ryan Redlingshafer Sr. Together they own a rental property in Richmond Heights that garnered media attention recently for violations of city and county laws during the demolition inside the building.

 

 

 

South of the Border

This residential property at 5844 Marquita Ave. in Dallas is the registered address for AKR Ventures STL LLC and RedRose Capital LLC. Incorporation records tie both companies to James Ryan Redlingshafer Jr. of St. Louis and Phillip A. Rose, son of retired BNSF Railroad exec Matthew K. Rose.

One degree of separation: A Texas financier, with a stake in a controversial Mexican gold mine, is hooked up with St. Louis real estate baron James Ryan Redlingshafer Jr.    

The Mexican government’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF)  investigated a Dallas-based gold-mining company for alleged money laundering, according to a newspaper report in the Spanish language press published earlier this year. A director of that company is a business associate of St. Louis real estate investor James Ryan Redlingshafer Jr.

Redlingshafer, who resides in University City, is the organizer of St. Louis-based Artemis Holdings LLC with his father, James Ryan Redlingshafer Sr. That company received local media coverage last month for its violations of municipal and county laws related to demolition work on a Richmond Heights apartment building.

Though more far-flung, Redlingshafer Jr.’s other real estate ventures have garnered less attention, including the joint directorship and management of two Texas corporations with Phillip A. Rose of Westlake, Texas.

The range of Rose’s business activities is even wider. His diverse interests include sitting on the board of directors of DynaResource, the Dallas-based mining company, which controls a majority stake in the San Jose de Gracia gold mine in Mexico. He and his father, Matthew K. Rose, former CEO of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, own a controlling interest in the mining company through Golden Post Rail, a limited liability corporation.

Mauricio Flores, who writes the People Behind the Money column for La Razón de Mexico, discounts the possibility that the St. Louis real estate dealings are related to the subject of his reporting. He has, however, questioned why a reputable American financier would allow himself to become entangled in such a controversy. His May 5 column says DynaResource has been allegedly under investigation by the UIF since 2017 related to its gold-mining operations in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

Journalist Mauricio Flores writes the People Behind the Money column for La Razon de Mexico.

Flores reported that the government probe stems from questions raised by a 2014 U.S. Security and Exchange Commission filing, which attracted the Mexican anti-corruption agency’s attention to gold ingots that DynaResource claimed were produced at the mine. That claim raised official eyebrows because the mine is not known to possess technology capable of processing raw ore into ingots, Flores reported. Other unidentified UIF records cited by Flores allege an unnamed mining company director’s assertion that the ingots were transferred to the mining company by an unidentified member of organized crime. Flores reported that Mexican authorities were  first alerted to the alleged money laundering in 2017 by Keith Piggot, the then-CEO of GoldGroup, a Canadian mining company. Over the last decade, DynaResource has been mired in litigation with GoldGroup, which holds a minority interest in the mine.

However sketchy this may seem, the allegations merit consideration because DynaResoure’s San Jose de Gracia gold mine is located in a region that is under the control of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel. The territory is essentially lawless, and thousands of its inhabitants have been displaced in recent years due to violence attributed to drug traffickers. Inexplicably, Sinaloa’s gold-mining operations have grown during the same time period, leading some informed sources to suspect that mine operators are paying protection money, or falling directly under the control of the cartels.

If this were not enough, DynaResource has encountered continuing labor and safety troubles at the mine. But these ongoing issues did not deter Golden Post Rail from investing $3.9 million in the company this year.

The Treasures of the Sierra Madre

Phillip A. Rose’s financial interests are not confined to The Treasures of the Sierra Madre, however.

North of the border, he and Redlingshafer Jr. are managers and directors of RedRose Capital LLC and AKR Ventures STL LLC — two Texas-based limited liability corporations engaged in acquiring real estate in Missouri. Redlingshafer Jr. is also the registered agent of the two companies. But the mailing address for both is listed as being hundreds of mile away from his suburban home in the St. Louis suburb of University City. According to Texas incorporation records, the registered address for the companies is  5844 Marquita Ave., a single-family residence in Dallas.

In this case, there is no proof of wrongdoing. It may even be argued that such unfettered capitalism is emblematic of good-old fashioned American (and Mexican) free enterprise. But but these transactions are also bereft of any transparency. In recent years, Byzantine networks of limited liability corporations have been the subject of investigations that have uncovered how such shell companies are used by the wealthy to secretly acquire real estate to hide assets and avoid taxes. These backroom transactions may be legal or illegal, but their purpose is the same. Since the publication of the Panama Papers in 2016 not much has changed.

Pending legislation before the lame duck session of Congress is seeking to shed some light on this dark place.

In an op-ed that appeared in The Hill this week, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), House sponsor of the Corporate Transparency Act, outlined the problem and what is at stake:

“… Corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) are formed at the state level in the U.S., and no U.S. state currently requires companies to disclose their true, beneficial owners. This means that the U.S. is the world capital of anonymous shell companies — and is a hub for not just money laundering but also terrorist financing. Yes, that’s right — the same terrorist groups that attack the U.S. are also using the U.S. financial system to move their money, and to finance their operations. It’s appalling, and it has to end. …”

Indifference

The new owners of an apartment building in Richmond Heights didn’t factor in the human costs of dislocating residents during the pandemic. After all, from a financial standpoint, it was none of their business.  

31-year-old James Ryan Redlingshafer Jr.’s University City home and the registered address of Artemis Holdings LLC.

At 1:15 a.m. Sunday Nov. 6, 2011, Officer Jeff McNutt of the Town and Country Police Department observed the driver of a 2011 Lexus veering from one lane to another on west bound Interstate 64 at Mason Road. After he pulled the vehicle over, he could smell alcohol on 22-year-old James Ryan Redlingshafer Jr.’s  breath and noted that his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. Redlingshafer Jr. denied he had been drinking, but based on a field sobriety test, McNutt arrested him for drunken driving.

Redlingshafer Jr. later failed a breathalyzer test at the police station. Redlingshafer Jr. refused to answer most questions posed to him by the arresting officer, including whether he was under the influence of narcotics. However, when asked to provide his occupation, he responded by saying that he worked in “finance.”  On his arrest report, McNutt described the young man’s attitude as “indifferent.”

Town and Country police described James Ryan Redlingshafer Jr.’s attitude as indifferent.

Since then, Redlingshafer Jr. has avoided further scrapes with the law, and is now partnered in a lucrative real estate business with his father. Nevertheless, the terse language contained in the nearly decade-old police report eerily presaged the future.

In July, when the Redlingshafer family real estate business — Artemis Holdings LLC — purchased a six-unit rental property in Richmond Heights, residents didn’t know they would be subjected to indifference. Nor did they have an inkling that demolition work was imminent. Initially, Artemis Holdings didn’t even bother to tell the Richmond Heights Zoning and Building Administrator of its plans. The company only applied for a building permit after a tenant informed the city that work had already commenced.

On September 30, Artemis Holdings began gutting the former apartment of an 85-year-old tenant, who had vacated the premises on short notice. Others would soon be forced to make hasty exits, too, including an 82-year-old woman with multiple sclerosis. Asbestos was subsequently discovered in the apartment building, but only after the hazardous material had been released into the environment during demolition, potentially exposing the remaining residents to toxic dust and particulate matter.

By late October, the rehabbed apartment was being advertised online for $1,395 a month, a 100 percent increase. A month later, four of the six tenants had moved. The bottom line: Tenants were displaced during the worst pandemic in history, and two of them are octogenarians with pre-existing health problems. Moreover, Richmond Heights and St. Louis County officials deemed such practices acceptable, accommodating the landlords at every turn at the expense of the tenants.

The lax enforcement of various laws in this case suggests systematic indifference on all fronts.

The Fourth Circle of Hell

Besides Artemis Holdings, Redlingshafer Jr. is connected to four other corporations, according to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office. Two of those companies have names that allude to Greek mythology. Artemis Holdings is named for the Greek god of hunting, whereas, Plutus Holdings LLC, refers to the Greek god of wealth. In Canto VII of Dante’s Inferno, Plutus is a demon of wealth who guards the Fourth Circle of Hell.

Though other corporations in Redlingshafer Jr.’s portfolio lack literary or mythological cachet, they are no less predicated on the pursuit of profit. Two of them — RedRose Capital LLC and AKR Ventures STL LLC. — are registered in the state of Texas and are tied to both Redlingshafer Jr. and Texas-based real estate investor Phillip A. Rose.

A classified real estate ad from the 1930s offering acreage in Country Life Acres.

Redlingshafer Jr. appears to have inherited his business acumen from his father, 61-year-old James Ryan Redlingshafer Sr. — co-owner of Artemis Holdings. The elder Redlingshafer lives nine miles west of Richmond Heights in Country Life Acres, a gated community.

Artemis Holdings co-owner James Ryan Redlingshafer lives behind these locked gates in Country Life Acres.

The village, which was incorporated in 1949, is comprised of 27 households with a population of 74. Its median annual family income is estimated at $200,000. Redlingshafer Sr. and his wife purchased the five-acre estate — #23 Country Life Acres — in 2016 for $3.8 million.

The inhabitants here don’t hold annual house tours, making it impossible to get a close glimpse of their environs. But from the vantage point of Clayton Road, the enclave emits the gentility of the plantations of the Old South, with their sweeping lawns and white-fenced pastures that resemble the bluegrass region of Kentucky or the horse farms of Northern Virginia.

Despite the bucolic setting, however, Country Life Acres is by no means paradise.

Three years before Redlingshafer Sr. moved here, a member of Country Life Acres’ landed gentry was brutally murdered. The victim, Ivan “Ike” Mullenix, a fellow real estate baron, had once been the largest apartment complex developer in the St. Louis area. His wife stabbed him in the heart during a domestic dispute in July 2013.

Aerial view of the sprawling home of James Redlingshafer Sr.

Though not as renowned as the tony St. Louis County suburb of Ladue, the tiny burg of Country Life Acres has long been home to prominent St. Louis businessmen and professionals. Redlingshafer Sr.’s residence was built in 1938. His mansion is located next to the former estate of the late Branch Rickey, the legendary St. Louis Cardinals baseball club executive. Rickey bought his palatial digs and the surrounding 23 acres for $100,000 in 1930. 

After leaving St. Louis, Rickey made baseball history by signing Jackie Robinson with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1945, ending racial segregation in the Major Leagues. But the color barrier remains largely intact in Country Life Acres today, where nearly 94 percent of the residents are white. Related Article: There Goes the Neighborhood

There Goes the Neighborhood

Residents of this apartment building in Richmond Heights were threatened with eviction during the pandemic after reporting the property owner’s illegal activities, which had caused them to be potentially exposed to asbestos during the renovation of the building.

When a new landlord purchased an apartment building in Richmond Heights this summer, none of its tenants knew their lives would be upended. Nor could they anticipate municipal and county officials would turn a blind eye to threats posed to their health and safety. 

Passersby often take the art-deco gem for granted as they walk their dogs or wheel baby carriages down the sidewalk. That’s because the brick apartment building blends seamlessly into the fabric of the neighborhood. It has, after all, been here a long time.

The landmark has anchored the corner of Wise And Moorelands Avenues in Richmond Heights since 1938. Its ocre-colored facade and opaque windows project the elegance of a grande dame, adding a sense of timelessness to the leafy intersection. From the outside, nothing appears amiss. The exterior of the two-story, L-shaped building remains largely the same as when it was built during the Great Depression.

Scene of the crime.

But this semblance of normalcy belies the upheaval that has recently beset those who lived here.

Laws have been violated on these premises. Health regulations flouted. Permits and inspections skirted. The police have been called to the address. Local, state and federal officials have been informed. But nothing yet has been done to clamp down on the lawbreakers. They continue to operate with impunity.

This would be bad enough, but the violations are occurring in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic.

The troubles began this summer, when building owner John Carnasiotis sold the property to James R. Redlingshafer Sr. and James R. Redlingshafer Jr. — owners of Artemis Holdings LLC., — for an estimated $600,000. After the purchase, Artemis then handed over the management of their acquisition to Land and Apartments LLC, a firm operated by Connor O’Leary, who has an office at 1051 S. Big Bend Blvd in Richmond Heights. According to Missouri Secretary of State’s Office records, Land and Apartments registered to do business in the state on October 9, 2020 — after it had already started managing the property.

This may seem like a relatively minor issue, but there are other regulatory anomalies.

The litany of infractions stem from the recent demolition of one of the six apartments, which is part of an overall plan to rehab the entire building, oust the current residents and double the  monthly rents to $1,400.

With no advanced notice, the new owner hired a contractor to gut apartment 1E on Sept. 30 — without first securing the required building permit from the city of Richmond Heights. This allowed the rehabbers to also sidestep a mandatory asbestos inspection. Asbestos, which has long been outlawed, was commonly used in the past as a fire retardant in building materials. The hazardous material causes respiratory diseases and is a well-known human carcinogen that is strictly regulated under federal environmental law.

But those nettlesome details didn’t stop Artemis Holdings from forging ahead.

For three days, the work continued uninterrupted until a tenant called Richmond Heights City Hall and discovered the owner had not applied for the building permit. During this time, residents observed that no safety or mitigation procedures were being followed by Flex Construction, the contractor. Moreover, none of the construction crew wore N-95 masks or other protective equipment. Dust and debris were dispersed throughout the building. Truckloads of debris were removed. After a complaint was filed with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Diego Utrera, the construction owner, told the OSHA official that the remodeling work was limited to “cosmetic maintenance.”

Debris being removed at 7701 Wise Ave. on Oct. 1.

Richmond Heights issued a stop work order on the construction project Oct. 2. But the next day the contractor showed up at the site to continue the demolition inside the occupied building. This prompted one of the residents to call the police, as she had been instructed to do by the city of Richmond Heights.

After law enforcement officers arrived, the immigrant workers refused to leave the building for approximately 45 minutes. The impasse ended when the building manager arrived at the scene and negotiated with the police. The workers left without further incident.

Two days later, two tenants were issued eviction notices by the manager in apparent retaliation. Both tenants had paid their rent, however, and the notices to vacate were against state law. The eviction notices also violated a St. Louis County order that prohibits evictions during the pandemic.

On Oct. 5, Alison Carrick, a longtime resident of the building, appealed to the Richmond Heights City Council to intervene to protect the health and safety of the occupants. After she spoke to the council meeting via Zoom, Richmond Heights Mayor Jim Thomson vowed to look into the situation and advised building residents to contact Building Commissioner James Benedick about their concerns.

James Benedict described the full demolition of the apartment as “a little painting.”

Benedick, however, dismissed the tenants concerns, mischaracterizing the demolition project and the spewing of potentially toxic materials, as “a little painting.”

A week later, construction work resumed after the city belatedly issued a building permit. As required by law, an asbestos inspection was also conducted by a private environmental firm. The questionable activities associated with the project did not abate, however. Instead, the obfuscation escalated because both the building permit and asbestos inspection contained false information.

In comments presented to the St. Louis County Council on Oct. 13, Carrick pointed out multiple discrepancies contained in the building permit. The contractor, for instance, was listed as “unknown.” The permit also contained a fake phone number (314-123-4567). Moreover, the permit misidentified the owner of Artemis Holdings as being the building manager. The misinformation in the permit described the renovation as being limited to the “remodeling of the kitchen and bath,” and pegged the estimated total cost at $500. In reality, the entire interior of the apartment had been gutted.

When Benedick was notified of the underestimate, the amount listed on the permit was increased by ten times to $5,000, but that amount is still less than what such a project actually costs, according to a retired building inspector consulted for this story. When later confronted about this discrepancy, Benedick admitted that low-balling the estimated cost could result in reduced revenue from municipal building permit fees and county property taxes.

In short, the project appears to have possibly received a de facto subsidy from the Richmond Heights and St. Louis County.

Richmond Heights Building and Zoning Administrator James Benedick

After the owner was cited for not getting the requisite asbestos testing done, Artemis Holdings was compelled to hire Wellington Environmental Consulting and Construction Inc. to perform the asbestos inspection. On Oct. 7, Patrick Harper, a Wellington executive, conducted a “walk through” inspection of the apartment. Harper signed off on the inspection, claiming no asbestos was present, and submitted his findings to the St. Louis County Health Department. But there was more than one hitch to his stamp of approval. To begin with, Harper is not a licensed asbestos inspector. On top of that, he also failed to send any samples to a qualified laboratory for testing.

Harper’s cursory inspection failed to meet the sniff test of air pollution control specialist Ari Yarovinski of the St. Louis County Health Department, who rejected the inspection because Harper lacked the required Missouri Department of Natural Resources license to conduct asbestos inspections. His expertise lies elsewhere. Harper is identified as the clean-up company’s executive in charge of “corporate growth” at Wellington Environmental’s website.

After Yarovinski rejected the first asbestos inspection, Artemis Holdings had Wellington re-inspect the property. This time the environmental clean-up firm managed to assign a licensed inspector to conduct the inspection. By then, however, the the asbestos-contaminated kitchen floor tiles had already been removed and dumped by the contractor. Old floor tiles are generally acknowledged within the real estate industry and construction trade as the building materials most commonly contaminated with asbestos. Instead of testing floor tiles, the second inspector took samples from the kitchen walls. Those samples did not contain asbestos.

At her own expense, Carrick then took samples of the same floor tiles used throughout the apartment building to the St. Louis County Health Department laboratory in Berkley, Mo. for testing.

The St. Louis County Environmental Laboratory discovered asbestos in the samples of the floor tiles in the building.

The test results — conducted by the county’s own lab — showed the presence of asbestos.

Despite this evidence, Richmond Heights allowed Artemis Holdings to continue its rehab project with tenants living in the building. The noise, dirt and fumes from the subsequent demolition and construction work caused an 82-year-old resident, who has multiple sclerosis, to seek medical attention for heart palpitations. Other tenants, who were working at home due to the pandemic, found it next to impossible to do their jobs.

Related Article: Indifference: The new owners of an apartment building in Richmond Heights didn’t factor in the human costs of dislocating residents during the pandemic.