Thu, 15 May 2008
May 15, 2008
Both contractors and vendors are lining up their claims for payment at the courthouse as developer and general contractor Verna & Associates Inc. has begun piling up unpaid bills.
The dream of engineer Pete Verna, The Park has been years in the making, with construction starting on top of an existing four-story parking deck at Third and Caldwell streets more than two years after it was announced. And now, with the tower about 70% complete according to Verna's recent statements, it's unclear when it could be finished.
Key contractors and vendors pulled off the job in recent weeks, and now there is no ongoing work visible on the site.
"The absolutely last thing any contractor wants to do is file a claim, lien or lawsuit," says Phil Campola, Charlotte-based Southern Steel Co. chief financial officer. "Ultimately, I have a responsibility in protecting the company interests, and this is a last-ditch effort."
Southern Steel filed a lawsuit against Verna & Associates in February in Mecklenburg Superior Court demanding payment of $1.13 million as part of an unpaid contract for labor and materials already provided. The company began working with Verna in May 2006 when it signed a $3.3 million contract to provide and install structural steel components for The Park.
"They have not hidden from their responsibility and are willing to communicate with us," Campola says. "Unfortunately, that did not result in anything substantive, and at the end of the day they could not fulfill their financial responsibility even if they wanted to."
Mechanics liens totaling $567,000 have also been filed against Verna & Associates by Mooresville-based Performance Fire Protection, Charlotte-based Schotte 1 Construction Inc. and Building Logistics Inc.
Performance Fire Protection has already installed most of the sprinkler system but stopped work because it had not been paid, says Ed Cook, company president. "But we are optimistic it will work out."
Verna & Associates President Dave Frailey says the company is reviewing its options. "We are working with our attorneys and lenders in regard to this matter and will resolve it," he says. "We are not in any position to comment further."
The Park condo was slated to open this summer. The project's initial stated cost was $42 million. Verna has said that 85 of the tower's 107 condos had been sold.
Allen Tate Realtors is handling unit sales. Spokeswoman Karen Murray says the company can't comment on how buyers who have already signed contracts would be impacted by a completion delay.
Condos at The Park range in price from $400 to $450 per square foot.
The latest construction update on the company's Web site is from Dec. 24. The last day Southern Steel delivered materials to the site was Nov. 19.
"Our best chance to recover our money is if the project can go to conclusion," says Campola. "But if for some reason the project can't be completed, our chances go down considerably. But we are holding out hope."
Wed, 14 May 2008
May 14, 2008