ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– You may end up picking up the tab to air condition an abandoned building in St. Louis. Investigator Chris Hayes discovered this when trying to track down answers about millions in questionable stimulus funds.
It’s at the main headquarters for the former Human Development Corporation, or HDC. It`s been abandoned since last summer. Yet the A.C. power switch is on, activating a giant unit with 5 fans blowing.
You can almost see how cold it is inside as vertical blinds sway and trash bags ripple from blowing air vents.
It`s a building the size of a small school. We even spotted a window A.C. unit that sounded like it was cranked up.
Then we found an open window where we could feel a strong breeze of cold air. So we brought a weather thermometer which read about a hundred and ten in the sun. When we stuck it up inside the window, it dropped about 25 degrees. In the end, the thermometer read about 78 or 79, just inside the window.
We were surprised to find HDC’s Board President Charles Barge knows the air is on. He said he can`t turn it off without impacting a building next door.
I told Barge, “Those buildings don`t even look like they`re connected.”
Barge responded, “I do not know but anything, cause, anything I do to the air conditioning and heat affects Urban League.” (Urban League runs a Head Start program in the building next door).
Barge said he was also forced to heat the empty building all winter. However he said he could tackle some of our other findings.
Barge promised, “I`m going to go into the building after work today and I`m going to see what I can do and what I can`t do.”
Hayes asked, “Can you close those windows?”
Barge responded, “I will make sure they’re closed.”
Hayes followed up, “There was a window unit and it`s on.”
Barge seemed surprised, saying, “There`s a.. ? I didn`t know that. Because last time I went through that building, I didn`t hear any window units on, but if there is one that one will be turned off.”
HDC owes taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars after Missouri regulators uncovered mismanagement. Then Fox 2 found another HDC office left open for thieves to ravage. We revealed those findings in March, 2012.
Just last year, taxpayers funneled more than $4 million stimulus dollars to HDC. Incredibly, much of the money was meant for energy efficient programs – just the opposite of what we found put into practice at the former headquarters of HDC.
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