Downtown residents fear short-term rentals could cause life-threatening problems

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – At this time, plywood is found on several entrance doors to Ely Walker Lofts. It shows the aftermath of a homicide that happened in the lobby on Friday night. Residents we spoke to said that tenants who rent out their apartments through Airbnb are the source of the problem.

“I was in the back of my apartment in the bedroom and heard probably 20-30 gunshots. A lot,” said Kari Bodle.

Bodle has been living at the Ely Walker Lofts near Washington Avenue and 15th Street for the past year.

“When I tried, like 10 minutes later, to get down, the police were already there. I’m a nurse, and I was like ‘okay if someone got hit, maybe I can get down and help,’ and they wouldn’t allow anyone in the lobby,” Bodle explained.

Once Bodle entered the lobby, she said she saw the front and lobby doors shattered and glass covering the floor. She said she also saw pools of blood all over the floor.

“It’s scary, anyway, knowing that I live here. This is my home,” Bodle said.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police confirmed that a 16-year-old, who did not live in the apartment building, was shot and killed in the lobby of the apartment around 11:20 p.m. Friday night.

“It’s targeted at me. I hate to say it, but it’s like if you do some dirt, it’ll catch up with you. He caught up with this individual, it’s sad,” Frank Jordan said.

Jordan has lived at Ely Walker Lofts since 2016. He said he likes living downtown and plans to stay. However, he and Bodle both said the violence didn’t surprise them and that Airbnb rentals were part of the problem.

“There are Airbnbs here that they’re not supposed to have,” Jordan said.

“These Airbnbs are ruining everything for people paying rent here. People who come by these Airbnb, they don’t care about us. They don’t care that it disrupts our way of life,” echoed Bodle.

It’s a way of life that some residents say has been disrupted by Airbnb tenants pouring onto the streets of downtown St. Louis, like last summer.

“I came home, and I walked in, and there’s a crowd of people in the lobby, and I’m like, ‘Who are you all and where are you going? ‘” Jordan said.

Other residents said they had experienced the same thing.

“11:00 p.m. and you hear those loud parties. No. Some of us have jobs for which we have to get up in the morning. If you want to do this, do it at home. We don’t want it here,” Bodle said.

News 4 has learned that the Ely Walker Lofts have units owned by individual condominium owners and some real estate companies, including STL City Wide. Smith Management Group also provides on-site management of the property. However, the building is governed by the Ely Walker Lofts Condominium Association. A member of that board contacted News 4 days after this original story aired to provide the following statement.

“The Ely Walker Lofts Condominium Association is saddened by the tragic loss of life in the building last Friday evening. The association’s highest priority is to provide a safe and secure living environment for residents of the condominium. Each unit in the building is individually owned The building is not owned by a single landlord/landlord The condo has rules that prohibit short-term rentals like Airbnb Any landlord renting a unit on Airbnb or similar , breaks the rules and is subject to penalties It is often difficult to enforce the ban on short-term rentals proactively because the association is not informed of the rental until after it has taken place. The association will assist local law enforcement as much as possible in investigating this shooting.

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