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News 5 Investigates: Did apartment management mislead tenants about high levels of asbestos?

State has "no test results" for one complex which ordered evacuations
Posted: 9:02 PM, Dec 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-09 17:52:45-05
Shannon Glen Apartments.jpg

COLORADO SPRINGS — In a bombshell discovery, News 5 Investigates discovered the Colorado Department of Public Health doesn't have any test results showing dangerous asbestos levels at "The Thrive at the Incline" apartment complex.

On Thursday, News 5 reported on tenants who received "evacuation" notices to leave that property as a result of high levels of asbestos.

24 hours after that story aired, we learned another complex managed by the same company also sent the same notices to its tenants, asking them to leave immediately due to asbestos contamination.

Where are the test results?

Dunmire Property Management, the company that oversees "The Thrive at Park's Edge" complex and "The Thrive at the Incline Apartments" told Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross Friday that they had "no comment".

When we asked who performed the asbestos testing, we were again told "no comment".

We've now learned the property management company has not been 100-percent truthful with its tenants about what's going on.

"People are leaving furniture, property and personal belongings there," attorney Stephen Longo said.

The unexpected notices to vacate all apartments couldn't have come at a worse time.

"I think even in the notices, they were suggesting to take only essentials with them and are only being covered with a hotel for 7 days," Longo said. "Being displaced now during the holiday season---it's unfortunate. It's sad."

Longo says he's already received a phone call from a tenant impacted by the closures.

Within two weeks of each other, tenants at "The Thrive at the Incline" apartment complex, also known as the Shannon Glen Apartments, and "The Thrive at Park's Edge" complex, also known as the Pine Creek Apartments, were told they needed to leave because of dangerous asbestos levels.

News 5 Investigates confirmed that as of Friday afternoon, the state's health department doesn't have any lab results on file for "The Thrive at the Incline" complex.

We're told testing is being done now, but this raises serious questions over why the complex would ask tenants to leave before the health department has a chance to review the results and provide feedback.

"I think time will ultimately tell when the health department gets back the test results for the asbestos," Longo said. "I think what you'll look at is either there were high levels of asbestos and the building did something precautionary and said there's asbestos everywhere and we want everyone out or, what you'll see is that there's not (dangerous levels of asbestos) and they are using this as a ploy to remove their tenants, complete renovations and get new tenants at a higher rental rate."

A spokesperson for the state's health department said they only have test results for "The Thrive at Park's Edge" complex. That apartment building did reveal an "elevated level of asbestos fibers" in that complex only.

However, it's unclear whether all 312 units had dangerous asbestos levels.

"If it came out that abatement could have been quarantined to certain areas of the building or removal (of tenants) wasn't necessary, they will have significant legal repercussions against the land owner," Longo suggested.

A spokesperson for the state's health department also told News 5 that the complex incorrectly told tenants that their agency recommended that they needed to leave immediately.

The decision to evacuate all tenants came directly from the owner, a spokesperson said. In fact, the State says it doesn't have the authority to issue evacuation orders for asbestos issues.

News 5 Investigates will continue pressing for the property management company to release the test results.

A phone message asking for the property owner to call us was not returned Friday.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.

If you're impacted by either apartment closure, we'd like to hear from you. Please call our news tip hot line at 719-228-6275 or send an email to News5Investigates@KOAA.com.