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‘Best of The Globe 2018' now underway

City prepares to order repairs to Thompson Hotel apartments

(Karl Evers-Hillstrom/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — City staff are expected to ask the Worthington City Council to order repairs to the Thompson Hotel apartments during the council’s regular April 23 meeting.

The order will use evidence from Housing Inspector Rod Odell’s recent inspections on April 2 and 6, and an August 2017 inspection. Odell’s most recent report found nearly 100 violations, though most of them were small problems, such as a window missing a screen or a smoke alarm missing batteries.

Anecdotal reports from the Worthington Police Department and The Globe suggested a live bug infestation could be prevalent in the building. Odell’s report, however, found live bugs in only three units and no bed bugs. The building’s owners have been working with Olson's Pest Technicians and the company has reportedly made progress — it recently eliminated bed bugs from two units.

“Pest remediation might not be as extensive as we were anticipating, which is a good thing,” said Jason Brisson, Worthington community and economic director.

Instead, the building’s leaky roof — causing mold in hallways and apartment units on the third floor — has been identified as a bigger problem. The hotel’s owners have obtained price estimates for the roof, Brisson said.

“Really, that's where a lot of this issue will hinge on because that’s a really expensive and difficult fix,” Brisson said. “So both us and the property owner want to get that fixed as soon as possible to stave off further damage to the building.”

The building’s notorious smell is more complicated. According to a national contract cleaner who walked through the building, the odor could be eliminated by cleaning the carpeting — or better yet, replacing it with hard flooring.

However, it’s unclear whether the carpet violates the city’s code. Regardless, the city is focusing on pressing sanitary and safety issues such as bugs and mold.

The council had been expected to authorize repairs at its April 9 meeting, but legally, the city can only authorize repairs to specific violations — thus requiring an updated inspection to address new issues that weren’t identified during Odell’s August 2017 inspection.

“I think we would have done our tenants a disservice if we wouldn’t have required the same action for new violations as the previously identified violations, as they are both affecting the tenants regardless of when they originated,” Brisson said.

When they declare an order for repair on April 23, council members must set a specific number of days the owners have to make those improvements.

For the problems that aren't fixed in that timeframe, the city could make repairs itself. The cost would be levied onto the property owner through special assessments, which can be paid back in five or fewer annual installments at 8 percent interest.

Brisson said he hoped the building’s owners will be able to make some of their own repairs, and he added that they have been in contact with the city throughout the process.

“We’ve been working with them throughout this whole process, and at any time that we’ve asked for access to the building, they’ve been really forthright and helpful with letting us get in there,” Brisson said.

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