Downtown residents fear short-term rentals are causing deadly issues

After a teen was killed inside a downtown apartment Friday, residents are blaming Airbnb rentals
Published: Mar. 13, 2022 at 10:28 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Right now, plywood sits on several front doors at the Ely Walker Lofts. It shows the aftermath of a homicide that happened inside the lobby late Friday night. Residents we talked to said it’s tenants who are renting their apartments through Airbnb that are the root of the problem.

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

Bodle has lived at the Ely Walker Lofts near Washington Avenue and 15th Street for a year now.

“When I tried to, like 10 minutes later, go downstairs, the police were already here. I’m a nurse, and I thought ‘okay if someone was hit, maybe I can go down and help,’ and they weren’t allowing anyone out into the lobby,” Bodle explained.

Once Bodle got into the lobby, she said she saw both the entry way and lobby doors shattered and glass covering the floor. She said she also saw pools of blood all over the ground.

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

St. Louis Metropolitan Police confirmed a 16-year-old, who didn’t live in the building, was shot to death inside the apartment’s lobby around 11:20p.m. Friday night.

“That’s targeted to me. I hate to say it, but it’s like if you’re doing dirt, it’s going to catch up to you. It caught up to that individual, it’s sad,” Frank Jordan said.

Jordan has lived at Ely Walker Lofts since 2016. He said he’s enjoyed living Downtown and plans to stay. However, he and Bodle both said the violence isn’t surprising to them and said Airbnb rentals are a part of the problem.

“There are some Airbnb’s in here that they are not supposed to have,” Jordan said.

“These Airbnb’s are ruining it for people that pay rent here. The people that are coming in through these Airbnb’s, they don’t care about us. They don’t care that it’s disrupting our lifestyle,” Bodle echoed.

It’s a lifestyle some residents are saying was disrupted by Airbnb renters pouring out into the streets of Downtown St. Louis, like last summer.

“I’ve come home, and I’ve come in, and there’s a crowd of people in the foyer, and I’m like ‘who are all you people and where are you going?’,” Jordan said.

Other residents said they’ve experienced the same thing.

“11:00 at night and you’re hearing these loud parties. No. Some of us have jobs that we have to get up for in the morning. If you wanna do that, do it at your own home. We don’t want it here,” Bodle said.

News 4 has learned the Ely Walker Lofts has units owned by individual condominium owners and some property companies, one includes STL City Wide. Smith Management Group does on-site management for the property as well. However, the building is governed by the Ely Walker Lofts Condominium Association. A member of that board reached out to 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 at the building last Friday night. The association’s greatest priority is to provide a safe and secure living environment for the condominium’s residents. Each unit in the building is individually owned.  The building is not owned by a single owner/ landlord. The condominium has rules that prohibit short term rentals such as Airbnb.  Any owner renting a unit on Airbnb  or similar, is in violation of the rules and subject to penalties. It is often difficult to enforce the short term rental prohibition proactively as the association it not made aware of the rental until after it occurs. The association will assistance local law enforcement as much as possible in investigating this shooting.”