Investigative

Couple concerned over hazardous conditions in restaurant building

Palm Springs couple concerned over...

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - After moving to Palm Springs, Chris and David Hoffman wanted to bring something to the table with plans of opening their neighborhood restaurant, 716 on 111.

"We always wanted to have a little piece of Palm Springs that was more than just our home," Chris said. "It's been David's and my dream to have a stake in (Highway) 111. To be a presence on (Highway) 111."

That dream was close to a reality when they took over the building on North Palm Canyon Drive in April. 

"We were told this was a turnkey restaurant," Chris said. 

Until they started doing cosmetic touch-ups, when they say their dream quickly turned into something else.

"We found an exorbitant amount of what appeared to be black mold," Chris said. 
    
Chris said he then started suffering from migraine headaches, leading him to months of sickness including multiple trips to the hospital. 

"It was just so much pain, I can't explain to you the amount of physical pain I was in with the migraines," Chris said. "And just with not knowing what was wrong with me."

"We were working on this, and he's have days where he couldn't even get out of bed," David said. "I was more concerned about him, than this place."

In November, the two hired a mold inspector to check out the property.

Pictures from inspector Bruce Carmichael show multiple fungi throughout the property including whats called "Stachybotrys." 

"The very dangerous or deadly kind of black mold," Chris said. "And it was everywhere"

"It produces microtoxins, which could cause different things," Carmichael said. "It causes headaches, diarrhea, memory loss and brain damage."

"Once the doctor read the report that was done by the testing, they started me on anti-fungal medication because they believed I was carrying black mold within my body," Chris said. 

Now, biohazard signs are posted throughout the building. 

The Hoffmans said they invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up a location, according to Carmichael, could have gone through years of neglect. 

"They didn't do anything with the material that got wet," Carmichael said. "They let it sit. They may have fixed a leak, or they may have not even known it was hidden behind the walls." 

"The landlord certified in the lease that there were no dangerous substances, and the building was free and clear of mold and any other dangerous substances," Chris said. 

KESQ reached out to the landlord, Harvey Stern with Danro Development, LLC, who said he was unaware of any problems with the building before the lease. 

He said the Hoffmans, in their lease, had a 30-day window to tell him of any mold spotted. 

"I feel wronged," Chris Hoffman said. "I feel like we were taken advantage of."

Stern said he has offered multiple times to help the Hoffmans cover some of the costs.

But the Hoffmans worry, it won't be enough. 

"We're literally watching our dreams ripped out one 2x4 at a time," Chris said. 

Stern said he plans to try to evict the Hoffmans for not following the terms of their lease. 

The Hoffmans said the repairs may cost up to $500,000, and they're now considering other locations on Highway 111.


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