Downtown residents say there’s a growing concern over large, possibly illegal gatherings, street racing and crime

Published: Apr. 24, 2022 at 10:30 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - A loud, wild weekend in downtown St. Louis has left residents frustrated. Some woke up to smashed windows and things stolen from their cars. Others were kept up until early Sunday morning from ongoing parties.

“I came down here with such high hopes, moving down here from New York City, and it just has been really tough down here. Last night was the example of how it can all go wrong,” Diane Arnold said. Arnold has lived downtown for two years. She said the last couple of weekends have been filled with car break-ins, people gathering outside of buildings, loud cars and motorcycles, and massive parties.

“The complete lack of respect for people and property,” Arnold explained.

It’s a theme many residents are echoing across Downtown after this weekend.

“We need consistent enforcement of the current ordinances on the books,” Arnold Stricker said. Stricker’s lived Downtown for years. His car was one of two dozen inside Printers Lofts’ secured, underground garage that was broken into Sunday morning.

“Most of the cars that were damaged had windows smashed out, some things were taken,” said Stricker.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department investigated at least 20 vehicle break-ins in the area, with the majority occurring in the Printer’s Lofts parking garage. Surveillance video shows four people waiting outside the garage around 1 a.m. A car pulls into the garage, then the thieves followed. Ely Walker Lofts, one block southeast of Printers Lofts, also had car break-ins Saturday night into Sunday morning. It’s the same place a 16-year-old was shot and killed in the lobby during a short-term rental party about six weeks ago.

“You’ve got opportunities to do a heck of a lot of mayhem when it comes down to people who live here and call this home,” said Matthew Spencer, who lives at the Ely Walker Lofts. Luckily, his car was not broken into. However, he said he did witness hundreds of people, who he said didn’t live at Ely Walker, on their rooftop Saturday night.

“I think there were about six folks at about 11:30. By midnight, there were probably 30 folks up here. Then they just continued to flood in,” Spencer explained.

Video on social media shows what looks to be hundreds of people inside the community room on the penthouse level of Ely Walker. Spencer and other residents said it isn’t available for residents to use. They told News 4 the community room has been locked for years.

Building management sent out this email, in part, Sunday to tenants:

Ely Walker Residents,

We were made aware of large parties this weekend in the building. The community room was broken into and there has been a lot of damage. We have taken action to secure the community room again, however, it is not going to guarantee someone doesn’t break in again. If anyone sees or hears anyone in the community room or any other common area of the building that should not be there please call the police for trespassing. We cannot guarantee that vehicles do not get broken into, so please do not leave valuable items in your vehicle, do not leave the garage remotes in your vehicle, and call the police for suspicious activity or if your car is broken into.

News 4 reached out to a representative of the lofts Sunday afternoon. Here’s the response received:

The Ely Walker Lofts Condominium Association has rules in place prohibiting AirBnB type short-term rentals. It also has rules regarding excessive noise, nuisance and property destruction. Enforcing those rules is challenging when the association is not aware of a “party” or short-term rental event until it occurs. The association will use all remedies in its power to permanently remove occupants who are causing these parties. The association is also evaluating measures to improve building security, along with cooperating with the police.

“It was a risk for the members attending, a risk to the people in the building. If you’re gonna do it responsibly, do it someplace where you have a right to be, and this was not that place,” Spencer said.

Spencer, Arnold and Stricker said they would like to see city leaders and police step in to enforce rules and ordinances already in place.

City officials told News 4 the weekend events will be addressed at a press conference on Monday.