City leaders take additional action against downtown west problem property, Ely Walker Condominiums

After News 4′s story Wednesday, city leaders put nuisance violations and condemnations on Ely Walker’s front doors.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - The City of St. Louis is taking even more action against a downtown area property News 4 has been investigating. The Ely Walker building on Washington Avenue has become known for crime, and residents said they’re being victimized by the inaction of management.

After News 4′s latest investigation Wednesday evening, the city gave the building board members a nuisance violation and condemned four units.

Read: Units condemned & hearing scheduled after action taken against Downtown West condo board members

“It was shocking. I basically cried because I thought I had to leave,” one resident said.

This resident wants to remain anonymous after her unit was plastered on Ely Walker Condominium’s front door. Hers and several other condo units are now condemned.

“Disbelief and just disgusting because it’s like, how would you put us through that, and we’re paying you guys our hard-earned money,” the resident said.

This resident and three other condemned renters reached out to Ely Walker board members Thursday. An STL CityWide property manager emailed them back and told them to disregard the notice and that the city had incorrect information.

In addition to the condemnations, the city also deemed the whole building a public nuisance.

“It’s basically seen by the city as a problem child. It’s devastating,” Tyler Calhoun, another resident, said.

St. Louis City Leaders said the proof Ely Walker is a problem has been growing for months.

“Very alarming, very scared, the unknown. What comes next? Are they really going to do something to bring the building to what it obviously needs to be?” Allie Byrd asked.

Byrd’s lived in Ely Walker for more than three years. She said crime has gotten out of control in the last year.

Ely Walker’s run by five condo board members: Anshul Sathyan, Poppy Cao, Bill Richmond, Kyle Hennessey, and Sid Chakraverty. They’re all STL CityWide employees, but CityWide’s LLC is listed under Ira Berkowitz, a local attorney and Clayton alderman.

News 4 went to CityWide LLC’s listed address Thursday, which was Berkowitz’s law office. News 4 asked to speak with Berkowitz, but the secretary closed the door and never came back.

“Am I next? Could I be one? Because I am CityWide’s tenant and there could potentially be issues in my unit that I don’t know about,” Byrd continued.

City leaders told News 4 the condemnations are not a mistake, as suggested by CityWide. Leaders said CityWide LLC failed to do re-occupancy inspections and hasn’t paid the fines because of it. It’s a problem that city leaders said rarely happens with other large landlords and property owners.

“I would love for them to be out of the city entirely. I mean, they’ve proven time and time again they’re not capable of effective and competent property management. Like I said before, they don’t care if their residents live or die, they just want the money,” Calhoun said.

A spokesperson for the condo board members pinned the problems on Washington Avenue.

In a statement sent to News 4, attorney Elia Ellis said:

“The Ely Walker Lofts Condominium Association is extremely concerned about the safety and security issues in the Washington Avenue community. The Board of Directors and management has devoted considerable time and resources, especially in recent months to the issue of keeping law-breaking trespassers out of the building . The Board continues to pursue and consider additional strategies and options to improve building and resident security, including collaboration with the St. Louis Police Department and local stakeholders.”

Elia Ellis, spokesperson for Ely Walker board members

The five condo board members have to appear before city leaders next month. They’re also expected to be in municipal court for failure to abate.