Brew Tulum in the Central West End sues landlord after closing due to lead contamination
The owners of the now-shuttered Central West End restaurant Brew Tulum at 5090 Delmar Blvd., Unit B, have sued their landlords and the site's property manager over the lead contamination they found on site, saying their landlord's negligence caused them to sustain "serious injury and damages."
The RFT first broke the news last year that Laura McNamara and Alberto Juarez had closed the eatery in September after finding evidence of lead contamination on site in their Delmar Maker District space. The contamination was discovered after their young son tested positive for exposure during a routine health screening — and after they ruled out the presence of lead at their home, began to eye the commercial space that housed their year-old eatery. Testing later confirmed lead's presence on site — and that the couple had even higher levels of lead than their son.
The lawsuit was filed against Bridge Delmar LLC, which is co-owned by Doug Auer and Square founder Jim McKelvey, as well as Auer as an individual and Park Property Management LLC, an LLC controlled by Auer that Brew Tulum has previously identified as its landlord. Allegations include negligence, ultra-hazardous activity, battery and trespass.
Previously, the landlord disputed the married couple's claims. A spokesman told the RFT in November that the building owner “hired a Missouri licensed lead risk assessor who has identified no lead hazards relating to the building” and that the “building is in compliance with regulations governing lead.” However, the couple previously provided the RFT with reports from an environmental consultant who documented lead levels on site in concentrations above what the EPA considers acceptable.
"Upon information and belief, the lead contamination found in the premises as described most likely came from lead contaminated dust disintegrating and chipping from lead paint found on the walls in the premises, and from dust contaminated with lead after the remodeling/rehabilitation work in the historic building built before 1978," the lawsuit says.
McNamara previously told the RFT that when they took possession of the space, it was far from turnkey. “When it was handed over to us, it was handed over full of dust,” McNamara says. “There was no final cleanup.”
The lawsuit says that when the couple shared evidence of the contamination, the landlords hired a company that was not certified for lead abatement. McNamara and Juarez then closed the restaurant, fearing risk to the public.
The suit says of the landlords, "[T]o this day, they have refused to have a proper remediation performed. They simply offered to 'seal' the walls, but refused to have an appropriate remedial action plan done to determine what could be done to make the premises safe from this contamination despite being presented with a proper remediation plan."
The Delmar Maker District is on the south side of Delmar Boulevard, just west of South Kingshighway Boulevard. In 2018, Auer and co-founder Jim McKelvey, who is also a co-founder of Square, launched it with a vision to provide a home for St. Louis artisans and makers. It currently houses not only Brew Tulum but also Third Degree Glass Factory, Craft Alliance, Maker Hill and Made Makerspace.
The suit was filed in St. Louis Circuit Court in mid-January by Michael Lawder of St. Louis.
This article was originally published by the Riverfront Times.