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Midtown condos nearly closed after KCFD issued emergency orders to building managers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Residents on the verge of being kicked out of their Midtown condos are not only afraid of losing their homes, but also losing their lives after finding out the fire detection systems in their buildings do not work.

The issue prompted the Kansas City Fire Department to issue emergency orders telling the management of Park Reserve Condominiums to fix the broken fire alarm and sprinkler system, or else. The deadline was set for Thursday at 3 p.m.

“I sold my house in Leawood because I wanted a simple life in a condo,” said Kevin Kraft, who moved in just over a year ago.

It has been anything but the simple life for many condo owners who live in Park Reserve, much of which is still under construction. Issues like no working elevators, flooding and water leaks.

Photos from inside one of the buildings shows buckets catching a water leak above the ceiling. In another place, sponges and towels soaked up water from a broken pipe.

After no response from building management, one resident who says their ceiling leaked into the electrical outlets, finally called the city, prompting an inspection from the fire department.

KCFD ordered management to fix the fire alarm and sprinkler systems, make a plan of action to fix other violations and establish a 24-hour fire watch.

“Every hour 24 hours a day seven days a week we have to sign up and take a walk,” said Kraft.

HOA boardmember Bill Nelson has also taken turns.

“So for over five weeks now we have been forced to conduct fire walks in a six-story building and a three-story building without an elevator. Every hour,” he said.

Deputy Fire Chief Jimmy Walker said the department became very concerned for resident safety after inspecting the building February 1. The department was forced to issue a hard deadline before threatening further action.

“We weren’t getting cooperation from building management, so we just want to let them know that there’s a certain point when we have to call someone’s hand and say if you’re not going help us keep people safe then we’re going have to move onto the next step,” Walker said.

That next step could have been closing the buildings, which means owners would be homeless, if that is what the fire department had to do to keep people safe.
Park Reserve management provided a timeline to repair violations and walked through the buildings with fire inspectors at Thursday’s deadline.

“Already the alarm system has been brought back online so that was a major concern of, especially with the sprinkler system and the alarm system being down at the very same time. It poses a very serious hazard to the safety of the occupants,” Walker said.

Since it has a timeline and the fire alarm system is working, KCFD has allowed the buildings to remain open. The 24-hour fire watch is still in place.

Management of Park Reserve issued the following statement:

"Park Reserve LLC prides itself in offering the owners of our condos a unique and superior living situation, at a very competitive price point. The view and location are second to none in Kansas City.

Since August of last year, the Developer has experienced vandalism of our roof, parking, emergency generator, and outdoor storm drains on the exterior, and fire systems, stairwell handrails, maintenance areas, and camera system, on the interior. This vandalism could affect the safety of the Park Reserve community.

There has been misinformation circulated to the homeowners of Park Reserve for the purpose of damaging the homeowner's and the Developer's ability to sell their units. There have also been attempts to utilize city services such as the fire department and use of the media in further attempt to lower the values of the condo units within our development. 

The Developer of Park Reserve is making every attempt to keep up with this constant vandalism at our own expense, not at the expense of the homeowners, although we speculate that a very few of the homeowners may be the people responsible for the sabotage of our project.

Our number one priority is to protect our condo owner's investment."

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