Kansas City Plaza high rise tenants want rent back after AC was busted for months

·3 min read

Dozens of tenants living in a Country Club Plaza high rise apartment complex are demanding repayment of rent and other compensation after they have spent months living without air conditioning even when Kansas City temperatures grew dangerously high.

Residents of the Plaza Club City Apartments, in the 4600 block of Jefferson Street, say the company needs to take greater responsibility considering how long the problems persisted. Along with discomfort, some tenants were faced with health issues aggravated by the heat. And others moved out after it got too hot.

“A lot of us are spending time in apartments that are above 90 degrees. People have passed out, people have gotten chronic dehydration and gone to the hospital,” said David Robinow, a 24-year-old data analyst who started a campaign among the tenants to seek restitution from the property owners. “I thought I was having a bad time. But it turns out I’m really fortunate.”

In a statement Monday, Mark Winter, a spokesman for the company, said the delays were caused by supply chain problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but three new air chillers were purchased and installation is in progress. All buildings are expected to have air conditioning again by Thursday, Winter said.

As compensation, Winter said tenants are being offered reimbursement for window units purchased by residents to deal with the issue plus $150 credit toward rent for the months of May and June. He also said the company “is committed to the health, safety and comfort of its residents.”

“We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience that this maintenance issue has caused our residents,” Winter said.

The complex is owned by Michigan-based City Club Apartments, which has properties across the country in places including Chicago, Pittsburgh, Louisville and the Detroit suburbs. The same company recently opened City Club Apartments Crossroads Kansas City near 20th and Main streets, a luxury apartment complex complete with airy cabanas, a party-sized spa and sparkling blue pool overlooking the downtown Kansas City skyline.

In the Plaza, the company offers among its amenities on its website a 24-hour maintenance service, fast internet, resort-style living and “sexy bathrooms.”

When Elliott Gilliam, who works from home as an information technology specialist, moved into his Plaza apartment he thought he was getting a good deal for the price. He was impressed by the outdoor Sky Club and the fully-staffed office on site.

Then “the cracks started to show,” he said.

The gates for the parking lot were always on the fritz. Parts of the parking lot would flood severely. And then this summer he dipped into his own pocket to buy a nearly $400 window unit.

He raised concerns with management over the weeks. When he threatened to stop paying rent, he said he was met with another threat: eviction.

Cranes were on the street Monday to lift the massive air chillers onto the roofs of the affected buildings. But Gilliam says he does not plan to live in the building any longer than he has to — largely because of the way he and others feel they were not taken seriously.

“No real progress was made until we started really pushing hard for some kind of answer,” Gilliam said.

Roughly 50 of the tenants organized last week to form a group focused on getting the problems in the buildings addressed. Among the hardships they reported during the AC outage: Dangerously sick pets, wilting plants, massive stress and the inability to sleep through the night.

Robinow, the head of the tenant organization effort, said the company’s offer will not make the residents whole. He called it a “bad faith deal.”

“They need to give everybody their rent back and all of the expenses that they have paid in the meantime. That’s it,” he said.

“It’s really frustrating,” he added. “I’m willing to go to litigation. And I think that’s probably where this is going to have to end. But I really hope that City Club Apartments does the right thing.”